Leeds Rhinos' chief executive Gary Hetherington says that victory against Melbourne Storm in the 2018 World Club Challenge would be the greatest in the club's 128-year history.

It was announced on Monday that the Rhinos will travel to Melbourne in February to take on the reigning NRL Premiers on their own turf at AAMI Park, with few people giving the Super League champions any chance.

Having dominated Australia's Premier competition in 2017, many regard the Storm's current crop as one of the best in NRL history and they will be big favourites to take home the World Club title.

Despite this, Hetherington has challenged his players to defy the odds and write their names into Leeds Rhinos' folklore by beating their NRL counterparts.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: 'It will be the ultimate achievement to win the World Club Challenge in Melbourne against the Storm, who are the best NRL team I have ever seen.

'Both clubs have been the dominant forces in their respective competitions over the last two decades and we are under no illusions the size of the task that lies ahead.

'Melbourne are almost unbeatable at AAMI Park and they embarrassed many NRL teams their last season.

'Stats suggest our chances of victory are less than 10 percent so becoming World Club Champions in their backyard would be the greatest triumph in our 128-year history.'

Super League struggles Down Under

The World Club Challenge has predominantly been held in England over the last 30 years but when it has been played in Australia, Super League teams have been left wanting.

Only one English team has ever won the title in Australia when Wigan famously beat Brisbane 20-14 at ANZ Stadium in 1994 - which led to an expansion of the tournament three years later.

In 1997 the World Club Championship was held in Australia and included 22 clubs from both competitions, however, the tournament ended in disaster for Super League as no club progressed beyond the quarter-finals.

This was an embarrassment for English Rugby League and the Championship was scrapped after one year, with Australia's leading clubs showing no interest in repeating what they described as a 'farce of a competition'.

The last English team to travel Down Under for the World Club Challenge were Wigan in 2014, but they were convincingly beaten 36-14 by the then NRL Premiers Sydney Roosters.

Fortress AAMI Park

Looking ahead to next year's event and the task ahead of Leeds is a daunting one. Melbourne is formidable on home soil and with the likes of Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, they will undoubtedly start big favourites with the bookies.

The sides have met in three previous World Club Challenge finals, all of which were held in Leeds, but Melbourne still holds a 2-1 advantage and won the last meeting 18-14 at Headingley in 2013.

Both teams will have lost significant figures from their respective domestic triumphs when they take to the field in February, with the current World Cup also likely to take its toll on a number of players.

Brian McDermott's side will fly out to Australia for the World Club Challenge shortly after their round 2 Super League fixture against Hull Kingston Rovers at Elland Road on Thursday 8th February.

They will play the showpiece event at AAMI Park on Friday 16th February, with the game in Melbourne kicking off at 8pm local time and 9am UK time.