The National Rugby League has revealed their 2019 draw today, with the season set to begin on Thursday, March 14.
Despite the NRL’s efforts to begin the season a week earlier in the USA, that plan will not go ahead, with the season set to begin instead at Melbourne’s AAMI Park between the Storm and Broncos.
Due to the later than usual October long weekend, the finals series will begin on Friday, September 13 and conclude with the grand final on Sunday, October 6. As was the case in 2018, the season will have 25 rounds, with each team receiving one bye in the form of a round off, and another bye during the standalone representative weekend between rounds 14 and 15.
The NRL Brisbane Magic round has been locked in for round 9, and will take place from Friday, May 10 to Sunday, May 12.
Other highlights of the fixture include a grand final rematch at AAMI Park on Friday night in Round 6, with the Roosters and Storm set to play each other again on Friday night in Round 15.
The round 4 clash between Penrith and the Tigers is sure to be hotly-anticipated, especially if Wests coach Ivan Cleary does jump ship to the Panthers.
Some other interesting reunions include Korbin Sims travelling back to Suncorp as a Dragon in round 3, while Blake Ferguson will tackle the Roosters as a Parramatta Eel on the same weekend.
Round 5 will see Tyrone Peachey play his first game against Penrith as a member of the Titans. The traditional round 1 clash between the Roosters and Rabbitohs will also be Angus Crichton’s first game as a member of the tricolours.
State of Origin fixtures have also been confirmed, with the first match set to take place on Wednesday, June 5 in Brisbane, game two being played at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Sunday, June 23, before the series concludes on July 10 at ANZ Stadium.
The news comes just hours after a last-minute deal to end the stand-off between Parramatta and Western Sydney Stadium ensured the Eels would play home matches at the new venue in 2019. It will be christened at a special Monday night round 6 fixture between the Eels and Tigers.
The only team with unconfirmed venues is the Roosters, who are expected to move a large portion of their home games to the SCG.
A whole host of alternate venue matches have been locked in for 2019, including the Sea Eagles ‘hosting’ the Warriors at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium in round 3, while Penrith will take their clash with Melbourne on the same day to Bathurst.
The Rabbitohs will host the Warriors at the Sunshine Coast Stadium in round 5, before round 7 sees the Tigers tackle Gold Coast in Tamworth. The Raiders will travel to McDonald’s Stadium in Wagga Wagga for a home game against the Panthers in round 8, while round 10 sees the Dragons host the Knights in Mudgee.
The Bulldogs will play against the Storm at their spiritual home of Belmore Oval in round 11, while Parramatta will take a game against Canberra to Darwin’s TIO Stadium in round 15.
Gosford finally gets its first taste of NRL action in round 17, with the Roosters hosting the Cowboys there on the Sunday afternoon, before the Rabbitohs host the Storm there in round 21.
Thursday, March 14
Melbourne Storm vs Brisbane Broncos; 7:40pm, AAMI Park
Friday, March 15
Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla Sharks; 6pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Sydney Roosters vs South Sydney Rabbitohs; 7:40pm, SCG
Saturday, March 16
Warriors vs Canterbury Bulldogs; 4pm, Mt Smart Stadium
Wests Tigers vs Manly Sea Eagles; 6pm, Leichhardt Oval
North Queensland Cowboys vs St George-Illawarra Dragons; 8pm, 1300Smiles Stadium
Sunday, March 17
Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels; 4pm, Penrith Stadium
Gold Coast Titans vs Canberra Raiders; 6:30pm, Cbus Super Stadium
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