WARRINGTON Wolves fans can now start to make their plans for the 2020 Super League season after the fixtures were released this morning.

> Warrington Wolves 2020 Super League fixtures revealed

We look at the talking points to arise from The Wire’s fixtures for the 25th Super League season…

The toughest of starts

IF you were to ask Wire fans what they would consider to be the toughest opening two games they could think of, Wigan and St Helens would probably feature within them.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what they have.

The Wire will help raise the Super League curtain for 2020 when they face the Warriors at the DW Stadium on Thursday, January 30.

Their first home game will be a week later – Thursday, February 6 – when defending champions Saints visit The Halliwell Jones Stadium.

With new combinations in all three sides, this time of year is perfect for catching teams cold.

That could be especially true of Saints, who will just be getting used to being under the stewardship of new head coach Kristian Woolf – albeit with largely the same playing staff Justin Holbrook left behind.

Two defeats would be a damaging start for Steve Price, but imagine the kind of momentum two victories would generate.

Warrington Guardian:

The Wire open up the 2020 campaign with a trip to Wigan Warriors. Picture by Mike Boden

On the subject of Thursdays…

The scourge of rugby league fans everywhere, Thursday night fixtures have been scheduled up to and including Round 21.

Sadly for Warrington fans, their team is involved in more Thursday games than any other team in Super League thus far.

They have six Thursday matches scheduled whereas by contrast, Salford Red Devils have only one and Catalans Dragons do not have any.

Four of The Wire’s six Thursday games are also away from home, including trips to Hull FC (March 12) and Hull KR (April 30).

While Thursday night rugby league clearly suits host broadcaster Sky down to the ground, the decision to involved Wolves in so many of them is unlikely to be too popular.

In terms of weekend home games, Warrington currently have three scheduled – Salford on April 11, Castleford on May 16 and Hull FC on May 30.

Warrington Guardian:

A trip to Hull FC is one of six games Warrington will play on a Thursday night. Picture by Mike Boden

A different look to Easter

For many years now, teams have played two fixtures over the Easter weekend.

It is a schedule that has always drawn plenty of criticism from players and coaches – former Wire head coach Tony Smith was always among the more vocal opponents.

Now it seems, their voices have been heard.

There will only be one round of fixtures at Easter this year as opposed to two, with all five of the UK-based fixtures televised on Sky Sports.

Rather than playing on Good Friday, The Wire will be in action on Easter Saturday (April 11) at home to Salford Red Devils.

Warrington Guardian:

A home game against Salford Red Devils on April 11 will be The Wire's only Easter fixture. Picture by Mike Boden

New-look Challenge Cup

For the first time in the Challenge Cup’s illustrious 123-year history, the final will be played in July next year.

The date for the Wembley showpiece has been confirmed as July 18 – the week after the national stadium hosts the Euro 2020 football final.

Effectively, this means everything is shunted forward by a month, meaning The Wire’s defence of the trophy they so memorably won back in August will start a little earlier than usual.

Round dates are yet to be announced but as well as a gap for the final, there are currently three free weekends on The Wire’s 2020 schedule which co-ordinate with the amount of games they would need to win to reach Wembley again.

The free weekends are April 2-5, May 7-10 and June 4-7, when one would assume the semi-finals would be held.

For the past two years, the last-four clashes have been held on the same day as a double-header at the University of Bolton Stadium. A decision on whether this will be repeated is yet to be made.

Warrington Guardian:

The Wire's defence of the Challenge Cup looks set to start earlier than usual. Picture by Mike Boden

A summer of fun in the sun (hopefully)

One thing that can be drawn from this fixture list is that The Wire and their fans will clock up the air miles.

As well as their first ever trip to Toronto Wolfpack, Wolves will make two trips to Perpignan to face Catalans Dragons as they did last year and all three of those lengthy away trips fall within the summer months.

Wolves will visit Catalans on June 13 and August 1 while the trip to Canada – the one all Wire fans have been looking out for – is slated for July 4.

Whether the violence and ugly scenes that marred The Wire’s last trip to Perpignan in August will put Warrington fans off returning remains to be seen, but expect flights to Toronto to fill up pretty quickly.

Let’s hope for some good weather!

Warrington Guardian:

Wolves faced Toronto in England in the 2018 Challenge Cup but will make their first trip to Canada on July 4. Picture by Mike Boden

The return of an old friend

Tony Smith brought plenty of good times to The Halliwell Jones Stadium during his eight years as Warrington Wolves head coach.

Three Challenge Cups, two League Leaders’ Shields and three Grand Final appearances were made under his stewardship before his departure in 2017.

Since then, he has not brought a visiting team back to his old stomping ground.

That is set to happen next season…but he will have to wait a while.

His Hull Kingston Rovers side are not due to visit the HJ until Friday, August 7, as it stands.

Warrington Guardian:

Tony Smith looks set to bring his Hull KR side to Warrington on August 7. Picture by Mike Boden