World Club Series reduced to two matches for 2017

Updated: 

Next year's World Club Series will feature only two matches, with NRL champions Cronulla Sharks and Brisbane Broncos the two teams travelling to England.

The annual competition was expanded in 2015, with the World Club Challenge serving as one of three matches between Australian and English teams.

However, NRL runners-up Melbourne Storm announced this month that they had rejected an opportunity to participate in the next edition of the event, amid reports other Australian sides were also cool on the prospect of taking part. 

It has now been confirmed that the 2017 World Club Series will comprise one fewer fixture, with the meeting between Cronulla and Super League winners Wigan Warriors on February 19 following a clash between Warrington Wolves and the Broncos 24 hours earlier.

Warrington were beaten in the Super League and Challenge Cup finals this year, but did claim the League Leaders' Shield in between those two losses, while Brisbane finished fifth in the NRL regular season before losing to North Queensland Cowboys in the semi-finals.

A Super League statement read: "Following extensive work and discussion between Super League [Europe] and the NRL, the Dacia World Club Series will see a reduction from six to four competing teams in 2017.

"This is due in a small part to the unique nature of a World Cup year but also to accommodate the need for each club in the NRL to have a full pre-season fixture list prior to the start of their season."

Last year's World Club Series proved disappointingly one-sided, as the three NRL teams involved all triumphed comfortably.

The Cowboys trounced Leeds Rhinos 38-4 in the World Club Challenge, after Sydney Roosters and the Broncos had recorded similarly emphatic triumphs over St Helens and Wigan respectively.