The reigning Premiers, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, will open the 2017 Telstra Premiership in a blockbuster match against the Brisbane Broncos.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg today launched the 2017 schedule, which includes a reduction in five day turnarounds, the introduction of a 6pm Friday game and matches in every mainland State of Australia.
The season will kick off with the Downer NRL Auckland Nines (February 4 and 5) and the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars game, which will be held at Newcastle for the first time on February 10.
The World Club Series will feature the Sharks against the Wigan Warriors in the main game, with the Broncos taking on the Warrington Wolves.
The Telstra Premiership will be launched with a Round One programme that includes the Cowboys v Raiders, Sea Eagles v Eels and the Rabbitohs v Tigers, which will see Robbie Farah take on his former club.
The Bulldogs will take on the Storm in the first 6pm Friday match at Belmore Stadium.
Greenberg said the new time slot would give fans a full night of Rugby League on Fridays.
“Fans will be able to see two games live on Fridays and, while the early game may present some challenges in terms of attendances, we think it will be a big hit,” he said.
“Certainly this is a much more family friendly time than the late-night Friday game that we had a couple of years ago.”
Mr Greenberg said the 2017 season would also feature:
A representative round from May 5-7 which will include a men’s and women’s Test and the final Country v City match at Mudgee
Holden State of Origin matches on May 31 and 12 July (in Brisbane) and June 21 (Sydney)
A reduction in the number of five-day turnarounds – from 31 to 19
Matches being held in every mainland State, with the Roosters taking a match to Adelaide for the first time when they play the Storm in Round 16.
Greenberg confirmed the Telstra Premiership Finals Series would begin on September 8 and culminate in the Grand Final on October 1.
“But the season won’t end there,” he added.
“The Rugby League World Cup will be held from October 26 to December 2, featuring the best talent from around the world.
“So it promises to be quite a season… and it all begins in just over two months’ time!”
The 2017 Telstra Premiership schedule can be found at www.nrl.com