The Rabbitohs’ 2018 pre-season will kick off with a bang when South Sydney take on the Wigan Warriors in one half of an international double header at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 17 February.
The red and greens will take on the cherry and whites, with the St George Illawarra Dragons set to do battle with Hull FC on the same night, also at ANZ Stadium.
This is the first ever double header between NRL and Super League teams, and is part of the Super League extravaganza in NSW in February of next year.
Wigan Warriors, in partnership with Super League Europe and Hull FC, today announced that the first ever Betfred Super League game outside of Europe will take place at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday 10 February. This will be Wigan’s home game in round two of the 2018 Super League competition, and will be followed the next weekend by the historic double header at ANZ Stadium.
This will be the first time the Rabbitohs have played a Super League team since the 2015 World Club Challenge victory over St Helens, won by a record score line of 39-nil at Langtree Park in England. It will also be the first time the Rabbitohs have played a Super League team in Australia since playing the Warrington Wolves in a pre-season match in 2012 at Redfern Oval.
Rabbitohs CEO, Blake Solly, said: “The Rabbitohs are delighted to be taking part in this historic game to kick off our pre-season matches next year, and it demonstrates the commitment we have to the international game and exposing our Club to the global sporting community.
“I was the General Manager of Super League when Souths enjoyed great success winning the World Club Challenge in 2015, it was a wonderful day for our Members to return to Redfern Oval when we played Warrington in the 2012 pre-season, and this double header involving four of the biggest and most supported Rugby League clubs in the world will be something special as well.”
Rabbitohs General Manager of Football, Shane Richardson, said: “This will be a great way for our Club to begin our on-field preparations for the 2018 season and it will be fantastic to see the passionate Wigan fans come to our shores to support their team the way our Members and supporters get behind the Rabbitohs.
“There is an English flavour at our Club with Sam, George and Thomas Burgess all representing England; Michael Maguire having led Wigan to Super League and Challenge Cup titles before joining the Rabbitohs; plus Blake’s time as General Manager of the English competition and my history in England with Hull and Gateshead.
“We’ve been supportive of games such as this for a long time and it’s great that we can be involved.”
As part of the relationship, the Wigan Club has entered into an Official Tourism and Destination Partnership with the New South Wales Government via tourism agencies Destination New South Wales and Destination Wollongong in order to facilitate a two-match tour of Australia in February 2018.
Wigan Warriors Chairman, Ian Lenagan, said: “This announcement is certainly one of the most exciting in the history of Wigan Rugby League Club. Representatives from Wigan, namely Rugby Director, Kris Radlinski, and Commercial Sales Manager, Dan Burton, have been in negotiations with a number of key stakeholders both in Australia and the UK delicately pulling together this complex agreement over the last 12 months and we are happy to have formally agreed this partnership.
“The opportunities to create new core business from sponsorship and partnership as well as fan development and the potential for future player acquisition as well as significant financial investment makes this the most significant commercial partnership in the history of the Club.
“The Wigan fans are famed for their loyal support as shown when a huge army of supporters travelled to Sydney for the World Club Challenge game with Sydney Roosters in 2014.
“We firmly believe that the Wigan fans will be as excited about this venture as we are whilst we have also acted quickly to allow fans the chance to plan their trip to Australia and at the same time provide clarity on the number of home games for the 2018 season before Season Ticket packages are launched later this year.”
Tickets and travel packages for both games will go on sale at the end of August with well over 5,000 UK fans expected to travel with the English teams to Australian shores.