Warriors to start 2015 season at Widnes

Wigan's players celebrate a try during last year's game at Widnes
Wigan's players celebrate a try during last year's game at Widnes

WIGAN will launch next year’s new-look Super League with a trip to Widnes in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Thursday February 5.

The top-flight reverts to a 12-team competition from next season with fixture lists revealed tonight, just a week after the Warriors were beaten in the Grand Final.

Each club face each other twice - and play in the Magic Weekend in Newcastle - to complete 23 rounds, before breaking away into the ‘super 8s’ for the run-in.

The top eight clubs will then face each other once more, before a straight-forward top-four play-offs involving two semi-finals.

Because of the change to the league structure, the fixtures only run to the end of July - when the remaining seven league games will be confirmed.

The new structure has been criticised in some quarters for being too complicated, but the RFL believe it will be a hit and are branding the format as ‘every minute matters’.

Notable highlights for Wigan fans from in their schedule include the confirmation the Warriors will stage the Good Friday derby on April 3 - they travel to Langtree Park on June 12.

Prop Ben Flower, banned for six months following his sending off in the Grand Final, will be cleared to return in front of the Sky cameras against Warrington on April 16.

Warriors will travel to Perpignan to face Catalans on May 23, a week before the Magic Weekend in Newcastle. The six Magic fixtures are expected to be confirmed on November 17.

Wigan also have a World Club Series match against Brisbane in February, while they and the rest of this year’s top-eight enter the Challenge Cup a stage closer to the final.

But it is the introduction of the ‘super 8s’ system that will generate much of the interest.

Super League general manager Blake Solly said: “The league structure allows for changes that will bring unprecedented levels of excitement, drama and jeopardy to a game that has an unrivalled ability to deliver world class sporting action.”

Sky Sports will continue to screen a Super League game on Thursday nights, and Solly hoped that - by announcing those fixtures now - it will help clubs promote those matches and increase attendances.

Wigan Warriors’ full fixture list for the 2015 season:

FEBRUARY

5 Widnes (a) 8pm Sky

13 Huddersfield (h) 8pm Sky

21 Brisbane (h) World Club Series

MARCH

1 Hull KR (a) 3pm

8 Castleford (a) 3.30pm

13 Hull FC (h) 8pm

20 Leeds (a) 8pm Sky

27 Wakefield (h) 8pm

APRIL

3 St Helens (h) TBC Sky

6 Salford (a) TBC

12 Catalan (h) 3pm

16 Warrington (h) 8pm Sky

23 Wakefield (a) 8pm Sky

MAY

1 Hull KR (h) 8pm

8 Castleford (h) 8pm

16 Challenge Cup sixth round

23 Catalan (a) 6pm Sky

30/31 Magic Weekend, Newcastle

JUNE

7 Huddersfield (a) 3pm

12 St Helens (a) 8pm Sky

19 Salford (h) 8pm

27 Challenge Cup quarter-final

JULY

2 Warrington (a) 8pm Sky

9 Leeds (h) 8pm Sky

17 Widnes (h) 8pm

23 Hull FC (a) 8pm Sky

AUGUST

1 Challenge Cup semi-finals

8 Super 8s begin

29 Challenge Cup Final

OCTOBER

3 Super League semi-finals

10 Grand Final