The National Rugby League (NRL) today released the 2023 Telstra Premiership schedule along with a blockbuster pre-season draw that brings live NRL to more fans than ever before, right across Australia and New Zealand.
The 2023 Pre-Season Challenge will revolutionise the pre-season experience for clubs and fans alike and it all kicks off on Thursday, February 9 when the Warriors take on Wests Tigers at Mount Smart Stadium.
This sets the scene for a huge weekend of rugby league in New Zealand. For the first time both Men’s and Women’s Harvey Norman All Stars matches are played in Rotorua on Saturday, February 11.
This will be a cultural celebration reflecting the NRL’s commitment to reinvigorate rugby league in New Zealand after an absence of live matches due to Covid.
Back over the ditch only a matter of minutes later it’s the Grand Final rematch between the Panthers and Eels at BlueBet Stadium. While down in Wollongong at WIN Stadium it’s the Red V versus the Red V, the Battle of the Saints as the St George Illawarra Dragons fire up against Super League champions St Helens.
On Saturday, February 18 the Charity Shield hits the road to Mudgee in the Central West of NSW for the annual Dragons-Rabbitohs pre-season clash.
While back at BlueBet Stadium, it’s the 2021-22 NRL premiers Penrith Panthers taking on Super League Champions St Helens in the much anticipated World Club Challenge.
The brand new Dolphins close the pre-season competition at home at Moreton Daily Stadium against the Titans.
Then it’s time for the 2023 NRL Telstra Premiership. The biggest ever.
The season will consist of 204 matches over 27 regular season rounds.
More action than ever before over a longer NRL Premiership season, kicking off with Round 1 on March 2 and culminating in the Grand Final on Sunday October 1.
Teams will play 24 home and away matches and each team will also receive three byes throughout the regular season.
Many more fans right across Australia and New Zealand will have a chance to experience NRL live with matches scheduled in every mainland state and territory of Australia. Locations include Tamworth, Mudgee, Bathurst, Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga, Cairns, Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg, Perth and Darwin.
The NRL Telstra Premiership returns to New Zealand in grand style with matches being played across four major cities in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Napier.
The Warriors play 12 matches in New Zealand for the first time since 2019.
There’ll also be 20 weekends of NRL matches in Brisbane in 2023.
And the opening 10 Rounds of the Telstra Premiership will feature at least one game each week at Suncorp Stadium.
Season 2023 sees Premiership games played in more key stadiums than ever across Australia and New Zealand along with big Premiership clashes at suburban venues such as 4 Pines Park, PointsBet Stadium, Leichhardt Oval, BlueBet Stadium and Campbelltown Stadium.
All rugby league fans will be transfixed on the Wayne Bennett led Dolphins as the 17th team makes its NRL debut. On March 5, it’s the Round 1 clash between the Dolphins and the Roosters at Suncorp Stadium. The NRL match-up that seventh Immortal Arthur Beetson long dreamt of, now becomes a reality.
On March 24, it’s the Dolphins against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. The ‘Battle of Brisbane’ is guaranteed to electrify the Queensland capital.
On April 7, the Dolphins take on the Cowboys in Townsville and on April 23 they clash with the Titans at Suncorp Stadium.
By Round 8 the Dolphins will have played all other Queensland NRL teams.
The opening 10 rounds alone will have fans on the edge of their seats week in week out, with big rivalry derbies and blockbuster match ups dominating the key time-slots.
Thursday, March 2 and it’s the Round 1 clash between the Eels and Storm at CommBank Stadium and Friday March 3 it’s Panthers v Broncos at BlueBet Stadium.
Round 2 it’s Panthers and Rabbitohs on Thursday March 9 at BlueBet Stadium and the Broncos and Cowboys on the Friday at Suncorp Stadium. On Saturday, March 11 the Dolphins take on the Raiders at their spiritual home at Moreton Daily Stadium and on Sunday it’s the big 4.00pm game at Leichhardt Oval as the Wests Tigers take on the Knights.
Round 3 features Sea Eagles and Eels on Thursday night, Roosters and Rabbitohs on Friday night and the Bulldogs and Wests Tigers on Sunday at Belmore Sports Ground.
Round 4 sees the blockbuster Thursday night Grand Final re-match at CommBank Stadium between the Eels and Panthers with the Dolphins and Broncos shaking Suncorp Stadium on Friday night. Round 5 gives us the Roosters and Eels on Thursday and Rabbitohs against the Storm on Friday.
Round 6 is the massive Easter round. Storm and Roosters will clash on Thursday April 6, there’s the traditional Good Friday clash between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs and also the Cowboys against Dolphins at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Easter Monday it’s the Wests Tigers and Eels.
Round 7 it’s the Dolphins and Rabbitohs on Thursday, Sea Eagles and Storm on Friday and the Eels and Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon at Commbank Stadium.
Which brings us to Round 8: ANZAC Round. The Rabbitohs and Panthers on Thursday, Eels and Broncos on Friday in Darwin and the two massive ANZAC Day clashes on Tuesday – Roosters and Dragons at Allianz Stadium and the Storm and Warriors at AAMI Park.
Round 9 sees the Broncos against the Rabbitohs on Friday night while the Panthers take on Wests Tigers in Bathurst.
Magic Round completes an amazing opening 10 rounds of the 2023 Telstra Premiership with a Queensland team highlighting each day of the event. The Dolphins make their Magic Round debut against the Sharks and blockbusters headline each day, including the Storm taking on fierce rivals the Rabbitohs on Saturday.
The NRL also announced the dates and locations for the 2023 Ampol State of Origin Series. Game One in Adelaide on May 31, Game Two in Brisbane on June 21 and a possible decider in Sydney on July 12. 2023 will see the return of three Wednesday State of Origins for the first time since 2017.
“We have a lot to look forward to in season 2023. More matches, more rounds and more rivalries. It all starts with a new 18 team pre-season competition in February and we are also working towards a dedicated window of International Rugby League in October,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.
“The 2023 Telstra Premiership will have more local rivalry matches than ever before with the introduction of the Dolphins. We are also excited to be taking the NRL Telstra Premiership to even more regional locations across both Australia and New Zealand.
“The athleticism and heroics of our NRL superstars is matched only by the levels of support of rugby league fans and their absolute passion for the game.” Mr Abdo said.
“I thank our broadcast partners Channel Nine, Fox Sports, Sky Sports New Zealand and naming rights partner Telstra for their investment and support of the game.”