Less than a month after the curtain was brought down on the 2018 domestic season, thoughts are already turning to 2019 following publication of the Betfred Super League fixtures.
Here, Press Association Sport picks out five mouth-watering matches to keep a lookout for in the next campaign.
St Helens v Wigan – Thursday, January 31
It might be chilly outside the Totally Wicked Stadium on the last day of January but the atmosphere inside promises to be red hot as the reigning champions launch their title defence against the favourites to wrest their crown. It is the 2018 Grand Final that never happened after Saints lost at home to Warrington in the semi-finals and will see Adrian Lam take charge of Wigan for the first time as they begin life after Shaun Wane.
Hull KR v Hull FC – Friday, February 1
Hull fans could not wait for the 2018 season to end as they watched their team suffer 11 successive defeats but know victory in an opening derby with their fierce rivals would quickly wipe out those painful memories. Hull KR comfortably retained their Super League status in their first season back in the top flight with five wins out of seven in the Super 8s Qualifiers to raise hopes of an even more successful 2019.
London Broncos v Wakefield – Sunday, February 3
Ealing Trailfinders will host their first-ever Super League fixture when the Broncos make their return to the top flight after a four-year absence. Wakefield will provide their opening-day opposition and Chris Chester’s men will be confident of gaining another top-five finish, which would be enough in 2019 to take them into the play-offs. The game will see Danny Brough make his return to Trinity colours after a nine-year absence.
Wigan v Leeds – Friday, February 8
Australian Dave Furner was linked with the coaching vacancies at Leeds and Wigan after creating a favourable impression at both clubs following two-season stints in the later stages of his career. Furner was eventually chosen to succeed Brian McDermott at the Rhinos and he is expected to kick-start their fortunes after their struggles in 2018.
Catalans Dragons v Wigan – Saturday, May 18
The Dragons say they are in daily contact with Barcelona FC about playing their glamour fixture against the champions at the Nou Camp. Barcelona chairman Joseph Maria Bartomeu made their invitation to the Catalans after the club paraded the Challenge Cup at the stadium in September and has promised to help fill it for the visit of Wigan.