Rachel Thompson admits it will be difficult to top Wigan’s “unbelievable” maiden campaign in the Women’s Super League.
The new fixtures have been released today - to coincide with International Women’s Day - with the Warriors beginning their title defence at home to derby rivals St Helens on April 7.
They stunned the league by beating Leeds in the Grand Final, completing a treble for the club with the Under-19s and first-team both finishing as champions.
“I don’t think anyone expected us to win last season, I certainly didn’t,” said Thompson.
“It was unbelievable really, and there was such a good buzz about the club with the other teams winning as well.”
Thompson said their success led to a swell of numbers at their pre-season trials, with six or seven new faces joining Amanda Wilkinson’s squad. “Last year, we were still getting to know each other, but now we’re a lot more gelled,” she said.
“We know what we can do.”
Wigan’s opener will be streamed live on the Our League app and website, part of more coverage of the women’s game than ever before in 2019.
Newcomers to Super League, Wakefield Trinity, will make their debut with a tough trip to face the Challenge Cup holders Leeds Rhinos at Weetwood.
In both Women’s Super League and Championship, each team will play each other home and away over 14 rounds of the regular season. In League 1, as nine clubs are involved in the competition, clubs will have a number of bye weeks during the season.
In all three leagues the season will begin on April 7 and end on September 29.
The top four teams in Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship will then enter into semi-final play-offs, with first place playing fourth and second playing third, before the Women’s Super League Grand Final and Championship Grand Final both take place on Sunday, October 13 at Emerald Headingley Stadium.
The Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final will take place as part of a triple header event alongside the Coral Challenge Cup men’s semi-finals at the University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday, July 27.
Wigan will follow up their opener with home matches with Castleford and Leeds at Robin Park, sandwiching a trip to York.
Thompson added: “Leeds are a big club and will be strong again, Cas’ have recruited well and you can never write off St Helens as well.
“Now that everyone knows what each other is about and what the league’s about, I think this will be an even tougher season than it was last year.”