Hull and Wigan head down under for 2018 opener

Hull FC are pleased to announce in partnership with Wigan Warriors and Super League Europe, the playing of the first ever Betfred Super League fixture outside Europe at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday 10 February 2018.

World Club Champions Wigan Warriors, with the support of and Ladbrokes Challenge Cup holders Hull FC, have entered into an official Tourism and Destination Partnership with the New South Wales Government in order to facilitate a three-match tour of Australia in February 2018 by Super League clubs, Wigan Warriors and Hull FC.

Hull FC and Wigan Warriors will compete in an official Super League fixture in Wollongong when Wigan take their home game to WIN Stadium on 10th February 2018. The following week, the two English clubs will then take part in the first ever double-header games between Super League and NRL teams at a single venue when Hull FC face St George Illawarra Dragons and Wigan play South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium, Sydney on Saturday 17 February, 2018.

Hull FC and Wigan Warriors will both return to the UK to participate in the World Club Challenge or Series on the weekend of 24/25 February, should either team qualify.

The tour with the support of strategic sponsors of the visit, Destination NSW and Destination Wollongong, will make a significant contribution to the New South Wales economy both in Sydney and in the region of Wollongong.

New South Wales Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Adam Marshall, said: "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. "The two Super League sides will spend two weeks in the State with the three-match tour expected to attract close to 5,000 interstate and overseas visitors to NSW, injecting more than $7 million into the local visitor economy. "We have a stellar line-up of rugby league events already scheduled in NSW, with this tour following the 2017 NRL Grand Final in October and Women's Rugby League World Cup in November and joining Game II of the State of Origin series in the 2018 major events calendar." Hull FC Chairman, Adam Pearson, said:

"This is a landmark occasion for the sport of rugby league and an opportunity for Hull FC to play our part in making Super League history.

"Two of the competitions most high profile and best supported clubs will have the opportunity to promote Super League on a global scale, as well as developing solid and long-term international links with tourism stakeholders in New South Wales and Wollongong, another heartland of rugby league.

"We would like to thank the key stakeholders involved and Wigan Warriors for their ambition and forethought in delivering such a unique festival of sport and look forward to making this event a huge success. This is something our fans, our club and the Super League competition can be very proud of.

"There will be a great deal of excitement from fans of both clubs and we're sure many will want to travel to New South Wales for such an historic occasion, support their team and help showcase all that is good about rugby league in the UK."

Wigan Warriors Chairman, Ian Lenagan, commented:

"This announcement is one of the most innovative and exciting in the history of Wigan Rugby League Club. Director, Kris Radlinski, together with Commercial Sales Manager, Dan Burton, has been in negotiations with key stakeholders both in Australia and the UK over the last 12 months, delicately pulling together this complex agreement.

"The opportunities to create new and increased core business from sponsorships and partnerships together with Wigan brand development, the increased profile with NRL players and opportunity for our fans makes this the biggest single commercial contract in the history of the Club.

"The Wigan fans are famed for their loyal support as shown when a huge army of supporters travelled to Sydney for the World Club Challenge game with Sydney Roosters in 2014. We firmly believe that the Wigan and Hull fans will be as excited about this venture as we are and we have announced early to allow fans the chance to plan their trip to Australia and, at the same time, to provide clarity on the number of home games for the 2018 season before Season Ticket packages are launched later this year."

Destination Wollongong General Manager Mark Sleigh said today's announcement came with a nice link, given Wollongong's Deputy Lord Mayor John Dorahy coached the Warriors to Challenge Cup and first division glory in 1993/94.

"There are genuine links between Wigan and Wollongong and at the core of this partnership is the fact it represents two passionate and successful rugby league heartlands," he said. "Announcing a significant international event as part of our ever-growing major events portfolio is a coup for the region."

"Wollongong's love of rugby league is a defining aspect of our sporting culture and to have a giant of the international game making Wollongong its home is a wonderful opportunity. The last time Wigan came to Australia, they brought with them a touring party of 4500 fans, so the overnight visitation will be significant, with pre and post touring options planned to showcase the region's attractions during the English winter."

Rugby Football League Chief Commercial Officer and Super League Executive Director, Roger Draper, said:

"Featuring two of the biggest Rugby League teams in the British game, Wigan Warriors have worked extremely hard in partnership with the New South Wales Government to create history for our game by hosting what will be the first-ever game outside of Europe while engaging an international fanbase, showcasing the vital role sport plays in the global economy and growing the Betfred Super League brand."

Tickets and travel packages for both games will go on sale at the end of August with 5,000 UK fans expected to travel with the teams.

Wigan Warriors and Hull FC in Sydney and Wollongong, 2018, is brought to you by Destination New South Wales and Destination Wollongong.

Hull FC would like to thank all stakeholders involved in this project