Wigan will warm up for the World Club Challenge with blockbuster clashes against St Helens and Leeds.
As revealed yesterday, the Warriors launch their defence of the Betfred Super League title at the home of their fierce rivals St Helens on Thursday, January 31 – their earliest ever start since the switch to ‘summer’ rugby.
They then have their first home match of the campaign, against Leeds on Friday February 8, before hosting Sydney Roosters on Sunday the 17th.
Other highlights of the fixtures revealed today are:
* Wigan’s trip to Catalans is on May 18 – though the French club are yet to confirm whether it will be staged in Perpignan or at Barcelona’s Nou Camp. Warriors officials are happy to play in Spain but are waiting for the Dragons to see whether they can arrange the fixture.
* Their first fixture against newly-promoted London Broncos is on March 3 at their Ealing ground.
* Warriors have only two Thursday home games –against London and Wakefield.
* Wigan will stage the Good Friday derby on April 19 – Salford are the visitors three days later.
* The Magic Weekend fixtures will be confirmed next week but Wigan are thought to be playing Warrington on the May 25 weekend, with the ‘on the road’ round expected to take place at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium.
Super League has ditched the Super-8s for a 29-round campaign next year, with a top-five play-offs and the bottom club relegated.
The 12 teams will play each other twice – for 22 matches – with a Magic Weekend fixture and six ‘loop’ games added on to pad the season out. The loop games, picked based on finishing position last season, have been weaved into the fixture list, rather than added on at the end.
The Challenge Cup Final will remain at the end of August.
Old Trafford will stage the 22nd Grand Final on Saturday October 12, the culmination of a return to the top five play-offs.
Robert Elstone, the chief executive of Super League Europe, said: “The 2019 season will mark a change of direction and the start of exciting new beginnings.
“We want our fans to be really excited about that first weekend, and how better to do that than with a Saints-Wigan derby.
“We’re equally excited about the extra Saturday games which our broadcast partners at Sky are showing in the early stages of the season, allowing the drama of the opening round of matches to unfold through the weekend.”
Warriors 2019 fixtures:
Thursday 31 St Helens a 7.45pm Sky
Friday 8 Leeds Rhinos h 7.45pm Sky
Sunday 17 Sydney Roosters h 7pm WCC
Sunday 24 Hull FC h 3pm
Sunday 3 London Broncos a 3pm
Friday 8 Huddersfield h 7.45pm Sky
Friday 15 Warrington a 7.45pm Sky
Sunday 24 Salford a 3pm
Sunday 31 Catalans h 3pm
Friday 5 Castleford a 7.45pm Sky
Friday 12 Wakefield Trinity a 7.45pm
Friday 19 St Helens h TBC Sky
Monday 22 Salford a 3pm
Saturday 27 Castleford h 5pm Sky
Thursday 2 London Broncos h 7.45pm Sky
Saturday 18 Catalans a TBC Sky
25-27 Magic Weekend n TBC
Sunday 9 Hull KR a 3pm
Friday 14 Leeds Rhinos a 7.45pm
Friday 21 Huddersfield a 7.45pm
Friday 29 Salford h 7.45pm
Friday 5 Hull KR h 7.45pm
Friday 12 St Helens a 7.45pm
Thursday 18 Wakefield Trinity h 7.45pm Sky
Saturday 3 Hull FC a 5pm
Friday 9 Hull KR h 7.45pm
Friday 16 Warrington h 7.45pm
Sunday 1 Wakefield Trinity a 3pm
Friday 6 Catalans h 7.45pm
Friday 13 Castleford h 7.45pm