St Helens v Wigan blockbuster to open new season?

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St Helens are set to launch the new season against Wigan in January - their earliest start to a Super League campaign.

The new fixtures will be revealed at lunchtime tomorrow.

And League Express reported today that the 2019 campaign will start with a Saints-Warriors derby on Thursday, January 31. That would be the earliest date they have started a Super League season since the switch to ‘summer’ rugby in 1996.

Last year they started on February 2 and in 2013 on Feb 1, although many other seasons began a few days later.

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.

Clubs say they need the extra matches to generate income. It is thought the ‘loop’ games will be worked out by a model that teams who finished in an odd-numbered position - Saints were first - play additional matches against all the teams who were in ‘even’ positions.

In addition, Saintss are thought to be lined-up to face Castleford (3rd last year) in the Magic Weekend. But it is unclear whether the Magic games will be confirmed tomorrow, and whether the venue for the ‘on the road’ showcase will be announced.

The Sun reported Liverpool’s Anfield is set to host 2019’s Magic Weekend, with Newcastle’s St James’ Park instead staging the Challenge Cup semi-final double-header.