sport

Melbourne set for Halifax date

Melbourne Storm will have a contested training session with Halifax next month as part of their World Club Challenge preparations next month.

The Australian champions are flying out of Melbourne on February 11 and will spend five days in London before setting up camp in the north of England.

Three years ago the Storm warmed up for their clash with the Rhinos with a match against London Broncos but this time will satisfy themselves with a stiff work-out against Halifax three days before they take on the Super League champions on Friday, February 22.

It will be the third time the pair have met in the World Club Challenge, with honours even after a Leeds victory in 2008 and a defeat in 2010, both at Elland Road.

The Rhinos made the most of their opportunity to play at Headingley in last year's WCC, grinding out a 26-12 win over Manly Sea Eagles, to take the number of victories by Super League clubs to eight from 13 since the concept was revived in 2000.

In each of those contests, the visitors have been forced to overcome jet leg and a dramatic change of weather conditions as they switch from the middle of an Australia summer but Melbourne football manager Frank Ponissi insists they will be prepared.

"We will be going 100 per cent against Leeds," Ponissi told the Australia media. "We know we're not quite going to be at our best by then but we have to be as close to it as we possibly can.

"We have 10 days to get ready, adjust to the time zone and the temperature and get some quality intensive training in those conditions."

Amid speculation that coach Craig Bellamy is poised to make a switch to St George Illawarra, he has promised Melbourne he will make a decision on his future before they set off for England.

Halifax, who played a full-blown warm-up fixture against Melbourne in 2008, say their 'semi-contact' game is likely to take place behind closed doors on Tuesday, February 19.

"It's not full contact but it's not no contact either," coach Karl Harrison told the Halifax Courier.

"Melbourne wanted a good practice session and it suits us too. We'd normally be doing the same kind of thing against our under-20s.

"It will be good for our boys to be on the same field as their players."