Rugby League - Wigan to make early start

Wigan will make an early start to the defence of their Super League title in order to fly to Sydney for the World Club Challenge.

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Rugby League - Wigan to make early start
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Wigan coach Shaun Wane - early start so he can take his team to Sydney

The champions have been allowed to bring forward their opening fixture against Huddersfield, the 2013 League leaders, by a week to Friday, February 7, at the DW Stadium.

After opening their domestic campaign, Shaun Wane's men will immediately leave for Australia to prepare for their clash with NRL premiers Sydney Roosters at the Allianz Stadium, better known as the Sydney Football Stadium, on Saturday, February 22.

It will be the first time the annual challenge match has been held in Australia since 1994 when Wigan beat Brisbane Broncos at Lang Park.

The Warriors, whose scheduled round two fixture with Widnes will be re-arranged for later in the season, will then fly back for their next league match against Wakefield on Sunday, March 2.

Sky Sports will show Wigan's opening fixture and then broadcast matches on Thursday and Friday nights rather than the Friday and Saturday slots, as in previous years.

The annual Magic Weekend in Manchester will take place on May 17-18, a week earlier than last season, but no weekend has been set aside for any mid-season international fixtures.

England have played the Exiles over the last three years but that appears to have been scrapped and any replacement fixture will be played midweek.

The Super League play-offs start on the weekend of September 18, with the 2014 Grand Final taking place at Old Trafford on Saturday, October 11.

Super League clubs will enter the Tetley's Challenge Cup in round four on the weekend of April 6, with the final taking place at Wembley on Saturday, August 23.

London Broncos have been included in the fixtures despite continuing uncertainty over their future. They are currently in talks with Barnet over a move to The Hive, having left the Twickenham Stoop at the end of last season, but have only a handful of players left on their books following wholesale departures.

Round one fixtures are:

Friday, February 7: Wigan v Huddersfield, 8:00pm.

Thursday, February 13: Warrington v St Helens, 8.00pm.

Friday, February 14: Hull v Catalan Dragons, 8:00pm.

Sunday, February 16: Bradford v Castleford; Hull KR v Leeds; Salford v Wakefield; Widnes v London Broncos (all 3:00pm).

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