Risk worth reward in new NRL trial format

With $100,000 in prize money up for grabs, NRL sides will focus on playing attacking football as part of the game's newly rebranded pre-season tournament.

The two-week Pre-Season Challenge - headlined by the return of the World Club Challenge between Penrith and Super League champions St Helens - will reward teams willing to take risks.

The ladder format across two weekends in February will dictate the winner of the tournament, with clubs awarded 12 points for a victory. Draws will be worth six points.

Teams will also be able to pick up a bonus point for every time they score five or more tries, make five or more line breaks, or produce 10 or more offloads during a match.

Clubs can secure a maximum of 15 ladder points per game, with the winner being crowned at the end of week two.

The trial period will be the first time NRL fans get to see the 17th club, the Redcliffe-based Dolphins, in action against the North Queensland Cowboys and the Gold Coast Titans ahead of their maiden season in the competition.

St Helens will also provide a level of curiosity when they take on St George Illawarra ahead of their World Club Challenge meeting with the Panthers.

The World Club Challenge hasn't been played since 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Having 18 teams and the added innovations, prize money and all matches televised live will create an exciting two weeks of football for fans," said NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo.

"The 2023 Pre-Season Challenge offers a new experience for clubs, players and, most importantly, fans ahead of another highly anticipated premiership in 2023."