Welsh will be winners whatever
John Dixon, coach of Celtic Crusaders, claims the fledgling Welsh club cannot lose when the mighty Brisbane Broncos visit Bridgend tonight for a Carnegie World Club Challenge warm-up match.
Dixon is not expecting the National League Two club to mount a serious threat to the star-studded Australian champions but believes their presence alone will provide a shot in the arm for rugby league in south Wales.
Australia captain Darren Lockyer, the 2006 international player of the year, will lead a full-strength Broncos team in a friendly arranged to prepare them for their clash with engage Super League champions St Helens at the Reebok Stadium.
"We understand it's a huge step from the Celtic Crusaders to the Brisbane Broncos," said Dixon, who made the move in reverse - having spent 10 years on the Broncos coaching staff before joining the Crusaders at their formation a little more than 12 months ago.
"The fact that we can bring the best team in the world to Bridgend is a huge coup for us. To tag your name on to that is a real benefit.
"We're hoping for a really good crowd. Corporate facilities have been sold out, and we're hoping for a good walk-up.
"We've got to use this as an exercise, where each player has got to do the very best he can.
"But it's more than the Crusaders trying to upset the apple- cart. This game gives us a fabulous opportunity to make people in Wales more aware of rugby league - and it gives our players, many of whom want to play in the 2008 World Cup, the chance to see how good the world's best are."
Former Batley hooker Andy Boothroyd will make his Crusaders debut - and for former Bridgend, Llanelli and Newport winger Craig Richards it will be a first ever game of rugby league.
Lockyer will be playing his first match since the Tri-Nations Series final in a line-up which includes 14 members of their Grand Final-winning team.
"We know lots about them," added Dixon.
"They're the defending premiers and they haven't changed much in personnel.
"They lost Shane Webcke, which is an enormous loss, but they have some fine young forwards coming through."