The Betfred Super League Fixtures have today been released by the RFL for the 2018 season which will kick off on the 1st February when the Champions, the Leeds Rhinos will face Warrington Wolves in a match to be played at the wolves home, the Halliwell-Jones Stadium.
All Thursday and Friday night televised matches will kick-off at 19:45 with SKY showing two games per week.
Round two will see Super League on the road in Australia for the first time with Wigan Warriors facing Hull FC at the WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
France and Lebanon got their campaigns underway at the Canberra Stadium as a French side consisting mainly of professional Catalans Dragons players took on the enthusiastic Lebanese amateurs.
France were slight favourites to secure an opening win to give themselves a chance in a tough group Group A where both sides would still have to take on Australia and England. But the Lebanon side were full of experience and not to be underestimated.
Today’s winners were likely to make the quarter final, the losers almost certainly wouldn’t.
The much fancied Tonga opened their campaign against Scotland in the second of the double-header of matches in a sweltering Cairns.
All eyes would be on Andrew Fifita who had controversially decided to turn his back on Australia to represent his country of birth.
This wasn’t a matter of whether Tonga would win, it was just a question of by how many. It was an emotion charged opener for two passionate sides.
A sweltering thirty-two degrees welcomed Ireland and Italy to the pitch at Barlow Park in Cairns for the pool C/D game with the blue of Italy being the favourites with the bookies to overcome the conditions and start their World Cup campaign with a victory.
The warm weather policy had been enacted with water breaks after twenty minutes of each half and an extended half time period to give the players more time to take on fluids.
The Irish won the coin toss and elected to take advantage of a strong wind at their backs in the first half.
It was Mick Potter’s Fiji against the United States of America Tomahawks coached by Brian McDermott for Saturdays final game at the Townsville Stadium in Townsville, Queensland.
Those outside the two camps knew little about the sides although both included a smattering of NRL and Super League players. The bookies had made Fiji the favourites and even USA coach McDermott acknowledged that if Fiji were on form it could be a very long night.
Mt Smart in Auckland played host to game three of the Rugby League World Cup as New Zealand entered the competition with a tough looking game against the men mountains of Samoa. The bookies favoured the Kiwis but Samoa were very experienced and fancied as outsiders by some pundits.
The last time that the two sides met was two years ago when New Zealand scrapes a 14-12 victory, the last time that the Kiwis played on home soil.
It was a mouthwatering prospect and a big crowd expected a bruiser.
It was a full house at the Oil Search National Stadium in Port Moresby for game two of the 2017 World Cup as John Kear’s Wales had the toughest of openers against Papua New Guinea.
The warm and humid conditions were perfect for Michael Marum’s Kumuls but a long way removed from the conditions that the Welsh boys are used to. Both sides had a number of players familiar to Super League fans, but many unknown quantities.
Playing on their home soil PNG were massive favourites with the bookies with few commentators giving Wales any chance of taking the points.
The month long spectacular that is the 2017 Rugby League World Cup gets underway on Friday morning when co-hosts Australia take on the old enemy, England at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
This is just the first of twenty-eight matches to be played over thirty-six days at twelve venues in three countries culminating in the World Cup Final on the 2nd December at the Brisbane Stadium.