|Mark (centre) with Sean O'Loughlin & Pat Richards|
The World Club Challenge is an annual rugby league football match played between the champion clubs of the Australasian National Rugby League and the European Super League.
Wigan have won the Challenge three times and after securing the League and Cup double in 2013 they earned the right to play Sydney Roosters in this year’s competition.
We spoke to Mark on his return to the UK to find out more:
"I'm currently Warriors' Head of Sports Science. The purpose of the trip was to travel with the team to assist with preparations leading up to the game and during it.
"I also conducted a piece of research on behalf of UCLan, looking into the physiological demands of the World Club Challenge.
"This is one of the greatest challenges you can face as a rugby league player, not simply because it’s a game between the two best club sides in the world, but through the various demands placed on the athletes.
"They travel through 12 time zones, play rugby under a different climate (from a freezing UK winter to the end of an Australian summer) and are away from family, friends and home comforts for over two weeks.
"The research assessed the effects of some of these demands. Global Positioning System (GPS) data was collected for the World Club Challenge game.
"This is an athlete tracking system that provides us with information on the distance covered, speeds run at, number of accelerations, information on collision and physical contact. We can compare this data against regular Super League, NRL and international rugby league games.
"To look into the effect of training and travel, players completed daily wellbeing questionnaires to assess their body soreness, their quality of sleep and general mood.
"Urine osmolality testing assessed the hydration status of the players which became a particular concern due to the warm weather.
"Importantly the trip helped to build relationships with NRL teams in order to further assess the physical demands of rugby league through seasonal assessments of GPS data.
"Furthermore, there will be a full analysis of the tour itinerary, the recovery methods in travel & training, the diet & supplementation and wellbeing of players to identify the best methods to be optimally prepared for a game of this standard.
"Despite Wigan losing the game this research will hopefully help future teams in the preparation of long distance tours in the future."