England coach Steve McNamara has thrown down the gauntlet to every English Super League player by offering them the ultimate prize if they play their part in the most memorable Super League season in history.
Speaking at the official launch of the 2013 Super League season at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, today (Monday January 28) McNamara challenged every player to set new standards with their clubs and play their way into his selection plans for Rugby League World Cup 2013.
The 14-nation tournament starts just two weeks after the 2013 Super League title will be decided in the climactic Grand Final at Old Trafford on Saturday October 5, by which point every player will have had the opportunity to stake their claim for selection.
“The next 10 months are going to be fantastic as we embark on what I believe is the biggest Super League season in living memory,” said McNamara.
“Every English player who has ambitions of playing in the Rugby League World Cup now has the chance to prove himself in what will be the most intense Super League competition we have seen.
“It is a new campaign where every game will matter. Established players that have been part of the England group since it was created three years ago will want to continue to set the standards and the young talent coming through can also push to be in the squad that will bid to make history this autumn.
“It’s an open selection policy: we are committed to selecting the best players and I hope to see every players produce his best throughout every round of Super League and all the way to the 2013 Grand Final.”
Super League has enhanced its commercial partnerships for 2013 with an impressive stable of partners which now include Heinz BIG Soup, Foxy Bingo, Tetley’s and Rhino Rugby. Further commercial announcements are planned in the coming weeks.
The successful ‘Rugby League of the Extraordinary’ campaign launched during the 2012 play-offs which targeted new supporters has now been rolled out across all 14 clubs for 2013, which now features a full complement of 14 super heroes. Each of the super heroes possess extraordinary sporting skills and incredible feats of human endeavour and will be used in the new visual identity for the Super League brand in 2013.
The season launch has also been promoted by an innovative and perception-changing television advertising campaign which showcases the amazing exploits and talents of Super League players to millions of viewers. The ad can be viewed by visiting extraordinaryrugby.com
The 2013 Super League season kicks off on Friday (February 1) when champions Leeds Rhinos begin their title defence at home to Hull FC (8.00pm) and Salford City Reds host 2012 League Leaders Wigan Warriors (8.00pm).
The Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC fixture will be screened live on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1 HD, whose cameras will also be at Langtree Park on Saturday night when St Helens entertain Huddersfield Giants (4.45).
Four Round 1 matches kick off at 3.00pm on Sunday: Bradford Bulls v Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Hull Kingston Rovers v Catalan Dragons, London Broncos v Widnes Vikings and Warrington Wolves v Castleford Tigers.
The 2013 season will feature a return to the popular Monday night Super League action live on Sky Sports from Monday May 20, when the first of nine ‘Extraordinary Monday’ launches with the mouth-watering clash between Leeds Rhinos and St Helens.
Eight different clubs will host the nine ‘Extraordinary Monday’ matches, which conclude with London Broncos versus Leeds Rhinos on Monday August 5.
All 14 Super League clubs will head for the season-launch venue, Etihad Stadium on the Bank Holiday weekend of May 25-26 for the unique experience of Magic Weekend, which hosts the event for a second successive year.
The schedule for Magic Weekend 2013 features a spellbinding blend of derbies and arch rivalries and includes four matches at the home of football champions Manchester City on Saturday May 25 and three on Sunday May 26.
Magic Weekend opens at noon with Catalan Dragons facing London Broncos before local rivals Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats do battle from 2.15pm.
Bragging rights will be no more valuable than in the third match on Saturday, the cross-city derby between Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers who face each other in a 4.30pm start before St Helens and Warrington Wolves provide a final flourish from 6.45pm.
The Sunday Magic gets underway at 3.00pm with Salford City Reds versus Widnes Vikings and continues with the West Yorkshire derby, Bradford Bulls versus Huddersfield Giants at 5.15pm.
A memorable weekend will reach a crescendo from with the battle between Grand Final winners Leeds Rhinos and 2012 League Leaders Wigan Warriors, who brings proceedings to a close from 7.30.
The regular season concludes with the Round 27 fixtures over the weekend of September 6-8, after which the top eight clubs enter the intriguing play-off race which culminates in the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford on Saturday October 5.
The season launch was hosted by Sky Sports presenter Vicky Gomersall and broadcast live from the Etihad Stadium by Sky Sports News.
The 14 super heroes involved in the Extraordinary campaign are as follows:
- John Bateman (Bradford Bulls) – The Bradford Bulldozer
- Rangi Chase (Castleford Tigers) – The Castleford Hawk
- Leon Pryce (Catalan Dragons) – The Fireball of Catalan
- Eorl Crabtree (Huddersfield Giants) – The Hulk of Huddersfield
- Tom Briscoe (Hull FC) – The Rocket of Hull
- Michael Dobson (Hull Kingston Rovers) – The Hull KR Mastermind
- Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos) – The Leeds Try Tornado
- Kieran Dixon (London Broncos) – The London Phantom
- James Roby (St Helens) – The St Helens Dynamo
- Jodie Broughton (Salford City Reds) – The Salford Sidewinder
- Tim Smith (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) – The Wakefield Wizard
- Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves) – The Warrington Wrecking Ball
- Kevin Brown (Widnes Vikings) – The Widnes Kingpin
- Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors) – The Wigan Whirlwind
Tickets for the 2013 Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, Manchester, on Saturday October 5 go on general sale today priced from just £20. Until Monday February 18, fans can also take advantage of an early bird offer giving a £5 discount off a wide range of tickets (exclusions apply). To book tickets please visit www.rugbyleagueticket.co.uk or call 0844 856 1113
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