Leeds face Hull in opener

  • Last Updated: November 19 2012, 14:01 GMT

Leeds will start a 10-month-long rugby league season when they launch their Super League title defence on Friday, February 1.

Leeds: Start the season against Hull

The longest-ever season begins with the Rhinos hosting Hull, and ends on the last day of November with the World Cup final at Old Trafford.

Reunions will be the order of the first weekend of the domestic campaign, with former Leeds favourite Gareth Ellis returning to Headingley with his new club and 24 hours later ex-Huddersfield coach Nathan Brown facing his old club for his first match in charge of St Helens.

They are the first two games chosen for live coverage by Sky Sports, who will again show matches on Monday nights, starting on May 20 with the clash between Leeds and St Helens and continuing until August 5.

The opening day also sees Salford host Wigan while on Sunday, February 3, Bradford take on Wakefield, Catalan Dragons travel to Hull KR, London Broncos face Widnes and Warrington meet Castleford.

Leeds' round four game against Widnes, moved from February 22 to accommodate the champions' World Club Challenge clash with Melbourne, has been rearranged for Monday, June 17, three days after England's mid-season game against the Exiles.

The Magic Weekend schedule, also released on Monday, features a combination of derbies and arch rivalries.

The programme at Manchester's Etihad Stadium opens at noon on Saturday, May 25, with Salford against Widnes, followed by Bradford v Huddersfield and the Hull derby before the curtain falls on the first day with St Helens v Warrington at 6.45pm.

The following day, Catalan Dragons get the action under way against London Broncos at 3pm and that is followed by the West Yorkshire derby between Castleford and Wakefield and Leeds v Wigan at 7.30pm.

The regular season ends on the first weekend of September with the Grand Final taking place at Old Trafford on Saturday, October 5, but there will be little let-up for the game's elite players, with the World Cup due to kick off in Cardiff three weeks later.

Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood said: "The chance to feature in the most successful Rugby League World Cup of all time at the end of the year is guaranteed to bring out the best in every Super League player and I share the view held by tens of thousands of fans that the big kick-off cannot come quickly enough."

Round 1 fixtures:

Friday February 1: Leeds v Hull; Salford v Wigan (8pm).

Saturday February 2: St Helens v Huddersfield (5.45pm).

Sunday February 3 (all 3pm): Bradford v Wakefield; Hull KR v Catalan Dragons; London Broncos v Widnes, Warrington v Castleford.

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