Super League is back today and it starts with a bang in a game that has been a Grand Final in the past as Warrington Wolves host Leeds Rhinos on Thursday night in a repeat of the 2012 Grand Final.
These two teams have met in the opening games of the 2022, 2019, 2018 and 2016 seasons with the Wolves winning three of the four prior meetings.
When these two sides meet on the opening day one usually goes on to contest at least one major final by the end of the season. Will it be the case in 2023?
It is an interesting game with the Rhinos coming into the season on the back of making an unlikely Grand Final in 2022 under Rohan Smith who has now enjoyed his first pre-season at Headingley.
The Rhinos have decided to reduce the average age of their squad allowing some star players to leave and bringing in some stars of the future.
The Wolves have done the opposite approach after finishing 11th in 2022. Daryl Powell has brought in some top stars in the middle of the field to revitalise his pack as he brings in plenty of experience to the club.
Both sides are enigmas going into the new season and both will be keen to start with a win after all they both know what bad form can do to a season.
Kick-off time and TV Channel
The game kicks off at 20:00 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The game is live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Arena from 19:30 after a preview program from 19:00 on Sky Sports Arena.
Rohan Smith has named a 21 man squad for the game with new signings Leon Ruan, Justin Sangare, Luis Roberts, Sam Lisone, James McDonnell and Derrell Olpherts all included.
The Rhinos are without Nene MacDonald, Harry Newman, James Bentley, Mikolaj Oledzki and Luke Hooley through injury.
Here is the squad in full:
Rohan Smith has named his 21 man squad to face Warrington Wolves this Thursday in the Betfred Super League opening game with potentially 6⃣ making their full debuts for the club
➡ More https://t.co/NbBjTaGsir
🤝 In partnership with @BoardrmUK #YourFutureOurPassion pic.twitter.com/XqBrFw0Ekw
— Leeds Rhinos (@leedsrhinos) February 14, 2023
The Wolves were slow to announce their squad news perhaps due to the tribunal which took place the same day to determine whether star signing Josh McGuire was guilty of using inappropriate language in ben Currie’s testimonial against Leigh Leopards which saw him and Tom Amone charged.
McGuire was charged with a Grade F offence and could faced a minimum ban of six games as consequence.
But he was named in the squad for the visit of last year’s Grand Finalists Leeds Rhinos alongside Sam Kasiano despite a hip injury sustained against Leigh.
However, McGuire will not feature after picking up a seven match ban after being found guilty of the offence.
Gil Dudson won’t make his debut either after breaking his hand.
Interestingly, there is no Matty Russell. He started on the wing ahead of Josh Thewlis against Leigh but the sensational showing of Thewlis on Friday night against North Wales Crusaders has perhaps seen him named ahead of Russell.
Here is the squad in full:
📋 Squad News w/ @CheshireMould 📋
Our first matchday 21 of the new season! 🐺 pic.twitter.com/mnfmcvip7Q
— Warrington Wolves (@WarringtonRLFC) February 14, 2023