Sis-times Super League champions St Helens will begin their preparation for the forthcoming season by playing a friendly fixture at the council-managed Ruskin Sports Village on Saturday,
It had initially been scheduled for the Totally Wicked Stadium but after the surface had been relayed in the close season to ensure it will be in pristine condition for the start of Super League XXIII, the friendly against Championship side Sheffield Eagles has been moved a couple of miles down the road.
Saints approached the local authority for assistance to fulfill this fixture which will be played on an artificial surface.
It will kick-off at 3.30pm - 30 minutes later than originally planned - due to the number of fixtures already at Ruskin Drive that day and admission will be by ticket only.
No tickets will be available for sale on the day and the attendance will be restricted to 450.
St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, Councillor Sue Murphy, said: “Saints are synonymous with the town, so as soon as the call came to request assistance, we were all too happy to help by offering our state of the art Ruskin Sports Village.
“When we took the decision to improve the facilities at Ruskin Drive, the idea was to create a complex that had the capacity to cater for both grass route sports and higher level performers, so to host the famous Saints will be an honour and a privilege.”
As well as the Saints vs Sheffield Eagles fixture, there will also be a number of community football and rugby union matches taking place at Ruskin Sports Village that day which will not be affected.
Provision has been made for players and officials linked to these games to park, and spaces will be available for spectators to park their vehicles on the site’s two car parks which combined have slots for 500 vehicles.
Saints’ chief executive Mike Rush said: “We’ve invested a significant amount in a new pitch at the Totally Wicked Stadium ahead of the new campaign - but with three games scheduled in short space of time we contacted the council to see if we could move the game in order to protect the pitch.
“They agreed to this and we thank them and Sheffield Eagles for their assistance and the fans for their understanding.
“Because of the capacity it is highly unlikely, at this stage, that further tickets will be made available.”
Head coach Justin Holbrook has indicated that it will be a predominately young squad that faces the Eagles, with some experienced players added.
It will also feature several top-age Academy players.
Those, who have already bought passes and intend on watching the game at Ruskin can pop into the club ticket office for a refund of half the amount paid. A full refund, however, will be given to fans who now can’t attend the fixtures due to the new kick-off time.
Please note Ruskin Drive is a standing only facility and the car park is only available to those that have bought tickets – where space allows.
Fans will be asked to show their tickets on entry.
Disabled supporters who have bought tickets are also asked to contact the club ground safety team on 01744 455 050.