TV times, champions, facts and stats
This will be the fourth season played under the ‘Super-8s’ system. The campaign splits after 23-rounds, with the top-eight playing each other once more, and Super League’s bottom-four peeling away to form a new seven-game competition – the Qualifiers (or ‘Middle-8s’) – with the Championship’s top-four.
Three of Wigan’s first four games are on Sky. Only one March game is televised - the Good Friday derby - but then in April, three of four of their games are on TV.
Televised games on Thursday and Friday will now kick-off at 7.45pm, rather than 8pm.
Sky Sports will be screening two NRL games a week, and continue to show Catalans’ home games, in addition to their Thursday and Friday night fixtures.
Wigan will again play Warrington at the Magic Weekend, following last year’s thrilling 24-24 draw (above), but this time they won’t be headlining at Newcastle... Castleford v Leeds gets top billing.
Hull KR are back in Super League after a year in the Championship. They replaced relegated Leigh. They are coached by ex-Australia boss Tim Sheens and Leeds great Danny McGuire is their big-name recruit.
Since Super League was introduced in 1996, there have been four different champions – Leeds (eight), St Helens (six), Wigan and Bradford (both four). All but two of the titles have been decided by a Grand Final at Old Trafford.
Hull FC, Warrington and Castleford are the only other three teams who have competed in a Grand Final. Cas’ and Warrington have won the League Leaders’ Shield, as have Huddersfield, but the Giants have never reached Old Trafford.
Only five of the current 12 teams played in the first Super League, in 1996: Wigan, St Helens, Warrington, Leeds and Castleford.