Super League sides headed for Australia
The NRL pre-season will have a different feel in 2018 with UK Super League sides Wigan Warriors and Hull FC travel to Sydney to take on the Rabbitohs and Dragons as part of a international double-header at ANZ Stadium on Saturday February 17.
With South Sydney to take on Wigan and St George Illawarra to clash with Hull, it will be the first time a double-header has been staged between NRL and Super League sides.
In addition to the historic night at Sydney Olympic Park, it was also announced the first-ever Super League fixture to be played outside of Europe will be staged the week prior, with Wigan to take their Round 2 home game against Hull FC to WIN Stadium on Saturday February 10.
Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly, who spent time in the UK as Super League general manager, said the pre-season fixture would be the perfect way to help grow the game internationally.
"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," Solly said.
Dragons chief executive Peter Doust added there would be something different for rugby league fans in Illawarra.
"It's the community's chance to experience the unique atmosphere generated at the first Super League game to be played outside Europe," Doust said.
Wigan have received support from the NSW government via Destination NSW and Destination Wollongong, and New South Wales minister for tourism and major events Adam Marshall said it would be a boost for the game and the local economy.
"Australia is mad for rugby league and I am thrilled the NSW Government has secured these exclusive matches for Sydney and Wollongong, which will drive visitors to both areas," Marshall said.
"The two Super League sides will spend two weeks in the state with the three-match tour expected to attract close to 5000 interstate and overseas visitors to NSW, injecting more than $7 million into the local visitor economy."
While yet to be confirmed, it's expected the annual Charity Shield match-up between the Rabbitohs and Dragons will still take place, likely to be played the week after the double-header.