St Helens v Castleford (Friday February 2, Totally Wicked Stadium)
The season actually begins 24 hours earlier when Leeds travel to Warrington – but it’s hard not to look at the first Friday game of the new season with a wandering glance. Should Castleford and St Helens repeat their performance from the Super League play-offs – which was one of the best games in recent years – then it will be a thrilling occasion to open the new season with.
Warrington v Wigan (Friday 23 February, Halliwell Jones Stadium)
There are no shortage of tough tests in the first few weeks of the season for new Warrington coach Steve Price – not least the Wolves’ clash against fierce rivals Wigan in the third round of the campaign. Likely to be played in front of a packed-out Halliwell Jones Stadium, it promises to be one of the standout games of the early part of the 2018 season. We can’t wait for it.
Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers (Friday 23 March, Elland Road)
Leeds have boldly declared they want to set a new Super League attendance record for their first trip to Elland Road against Hull KR – but their eagerly-anticipated West Yorkshire derby with Castleford in March is arguably the more enticing of those two on-the-road fixtures. With Castleford out for revenge following the Grand Final loss and the Rhinos hoping to put on a show, it will be a special night under the lights in Leeds.
Hull KR v Hull FC (Friday 30 March, KCOM Craven Park)
Arguably the most intense derby in rugby league is back for 2018 – and fans will get their first taste of the Hull derby as early as March, due to Easter weekend falling earlier than normal next year. There is certain to be no shortage of passion and intensity on show – with multiple Super League-winning star Danny McGuire set to get his first taste of the derby earlier than he may have bargained for.
St Helens v Wigan (Friday 30 March, Totally Wicked Stadium)
There is a double treat on Good Friday, as the Hull derby is backed up by the traditional hustle and bustle that is St Helens against Wigan. The kick-off time is yet to be confirmed, but with the Warriors hungry to avenge a disappointing campaign in 2017 and the Saints looking to get even stronger, it should be a fascinating first derby of 2018.