St Helens to start new Super League season a week late due to World Club Challenge

St Helens Grand Final

St Helens are set to begin the defence of their Super League crown a week late due to the restoration of the World Club Challenge to the calendar for 2023.

The champions are due to play their first game since their Grand Final triumph against Huddersfield at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday, February 17.

However, that fixture will be postponed and rearranged for a later date to enable Saints to fly to Australia to take on NRL champions Penrith, although that match has yet to be confirmed.

A St Helens statement said: “The club and Super League continue to work with the NRL to finalise arrangements for a World Club Challenge to be held across the weekend of 18-19 February.

“Further announcements on this will be made in due course.”

St Helens, who have won the last four Grand Finals, were unable to play the World Club Challenge in 2021 and 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic but have agreed to travel to Australia to take on the Panthers.

It is thought the champions are also keen to play a warm-up game down under and will return to England in time to prepare for their round two fixture at Castleford on Sunday, February 26.

Saints’ first home game will be a repeat of the 2022 Grand Final against Leeds on Friday, March 3.

Warrington will launch the 2023 season on Thursday, February 16, when they host Leeds. The following night, promoted Leigh, who have changed their name from Centurions to Leopards, will welcome Salford to Leigh Sports Village. Meanwhile, Wakefield host Catalans Dragons.

Channel 4 will broadcast the first of 10 free-to-air games on Saturday, February 18 when they show Hull KR against Wigan while the following day Hull host Castleford.

Super League teams will play 27 rounds in the regular season, comprising 13 home and 13 away games plus Magic Weekend at St James’ Park, before the start of the top-six play-offs, culminating in the Grand Final at Old Trafford on Saturday, October 14.

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