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Super League: Warrington Wolves host St Helens at the Halliwell Jones Stadium
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Last season's Super League runners-up Warrington Wolves get the new campaign underway on Thursday night as rivals St Helens visit the Halliwell Jones Stadium, live on Sky Sports.
With defending champions Wigan Warriors losing to Huddersfield Giants last Friday, the north-west derby offers both sides the opportunity to lay down a strong marker as Round One continues.
Wolves endured Grand Final heartache for the second time in as many years in October, losing 30-16 to Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford, a year after their 26-18 defeat to Leeds Rhinos.
A fifth-place finish saw Saints in the knockout stages, but they stalled in the preliminary semi-finals as they were edged out 11-10 by the Rhinos.
Warrington head coach Tony Smith could hand a debut to former New Zealand captain Roy Asotasi.
The prop features in the 19-man squad for Thursday night's game, as does fellow new arrival Anthony England, but full-back Matty Russell has been ruled out with an ankle injury.
St Helens coach Nathan Brown has also included winter signings, Australian Luke Walsh and former Wakefield Wildcat Kyle Amor, in his match-day squad.
Another new addition, Samoa prop Mose Masoe, misses out after ankle surgery but may be fit by the end of the month.
Although experienced head Adrian Morley, Lee Briers, Brett Hodgson and Gareth Carvell all operated the exit turnstile at the climax of the 2013 season, Smith's Wolves are still expected to be in contention.
Brown's turbulent first season at the helm started badly, mainly due to a spate of injuries, before recovering to take a play-off spot, only for a late Danny McGuire drop-goal to them a semi-final place.
Boosted by news of key players such as James Roby and Jonny Lomax committing their long-term futures to the club, Saints are hopeful of winning a first domestic trophy since 2008.
Saints won the first meeting between the sides last term before Warrington went on to claim victory in the subsequent two clashes.
Warrington Wolves: Asotasi, Atkins, Bridge, Currie, Dwyer, England, B. Evans, Higham, Hill, Laithwaite, J. Monaghan, M. Monaghan, Myler, O'Brien, Ratchford, C. Riley, G. Riley, Waterhouse, Westwood.
St Helens: Lomax, Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Hohaia, Walsh, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Wilkin, Manu, Laffranchi, Amor, Wellens, Walmsley, Percival, Wheeler, Richards.
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Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||27||23|
|10||Salford Red Devils||27||23|
|13||Bradford Bulls *||27||10|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington Wolves vs Salford Red Devils|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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