Tough starts all round in Super League 2019 as Leeds Rhinos hit the road early

TOUCHLINE RIVALS: Castleford's Daryl Powell, Leeds Rhinos' Dave Furner and Wakefield's Chris Chester.
TOUCHLINE RIVALS: Castleford's Daryl Powell, Leeds Rhinos' Dave Furner and Wakefield's Chris Chester.
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LEEDS RHINOS director of rugby Kevin Sinfield acknowledges his side have a “tough” start to the 2019 Betfred Super League season but insists they will be ready for the test.

With building work at Emerald Headingley planned to still be ongoing when the campaign kicks-off in February, Leeds will play all their opening four games away from home.

Leeds Rhinos face Castleford Tigers first in 2019 on Thursday, March 28. Picture Tony Johnson.

Leeds Rhinos face Castleford Tigers first in 2019 on Thursday, March 28. Picture Tony Johnson.

They begin at beaten Grand Finalists Warrington Wolves on Saturday, February 2 (5pm) and then head to champions Wigan Warriors the following Friday with both fixtures live on Sky Sports.

Next, Rhinos visit Salford Red Devils on Sunday, February 17 before another clash in front of the TV cameras when they travel to reigning League Leaders’ Shield holders St Helens on Friday, February 22.

“It is a really tough start, Warrington first up,” said Sinfield.

“They battered us in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup and for them to make two finals last year is testament to them as a club but also to Steve Price and the quality of the players they have there.

It is what it is. We’ll get on with it. We know that first month is going to be tough but whether we’re at home or away it would be.

Leeds Rhinos’ director of rugby, Kevin Sinfield

“It is a really tough start but we’ll get ourselves ready; we’ve got a bit of time before then and we’ll look forward to it.”

With regards facing four successive away matches – including three of this year’s top-four finishers – Sinfield insisted: “It is what it is.

“We’ll get on with it. We know that first month is going to be tough but whether we’re at home or away it would be.

“We’ll just get on with it and make the best of that.”

HELLO AGAIN@ Rivals Wakefield and Castleford will face each other Thursay, April 18 for the first time in the 2019 season. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

HELLO AGAIN@ Rivals Wakefield and Castleford will face each other Thursay, April 18 for the first time in the 2019 season. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Rhinos make their long-awaited return to Headingley - which is well on the way to seeing its £40m revamp completed – when Wakefield Trinity are the visitors on Friday, March 1, the fourth of their opening five games broadcast live.

Elsewhere, Castleford Tigers open up with a home game against Challenge Cup holders Catalans Dragons on Friday, February 1.

Daryl Powell’s side then make the short trip to Hull FC for a Yorkshire derby on Thursday, February 7 which will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Wakefield Trinity, meanwhile, visit newly-promoted London Broncos on Sunday, February 2 before hosting St Helens a week later.

Champions Wigan kick-off the campaign at fierce rivals St Helens on Thursday, January 31 before Hull KR host Hull FC the following night with two big televised derbies.

The Dacia Magic Weekend will be played on the second Bank Holiday weekend in May (Round 16) with fixtures and the venue for the 2019 festival to be confirmed next week.

Each team will play 29 fixtures – 14 at home and 14 away, plus the Magic round – meaning they play seven of the other 11 teams three times, and the other four twice. That fixture pattern has been determined by the teams’ finishing positions in 2018. Old Trafford will stage the 22nd Grand Final on Saturday, October 12, the culmination of a return to the Top Five Play-Offs which produced the original Grand Final in 1998.