Salford Red Devils are set to host local rivals Swinton Lions in a pre-season friendly on Sunday 14th January at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The game will be the Red Devils opening friendly of the 2018 season as they pit themselves against former Salford player Stuart Littler’s Swinton Lions side.
Both Clubs have enjoyed a rivalry spanning almost 140 years which has seen them do battles for trophies such as the Salford Royal Hospital Cup, the Red Rose Cup and most recently the Agecroft Cup and January’s clash is set to renew that rivalry.
Salford Red Devils CEO, Ian Blease, said: “Myself and Andy Mazey have contacted each other over the past few weeks since Andy took on the role of Swinton Lions Chairman and we are now hoping to build a fruitful relationship as clubs going forward.
“The derbies against Swinton have long been the highlight of rugby league in the City. Despite the game being a pre-season friendly I’m definitely anticipating a hotly-contested game between the two flagship sides of the City.
“This game will be something for all the rugby league fans of Salford and the surrounding areas to get involved with supporting two sides who are embedded in the local community. It will be great way to get the 2018 season underway.”
Swinton Lions Chairman, Andy Mazey, said “We are extremely pleased to have agreed a local derby with Salford as part of our pre-season schedule. It is great to have respectful rivalries in sport and I’m sure both sets of supporters will look forward to renewing this one.
“The AJ Bell is a fantastic stadium with a quality playing surface so what better way to start our exciting “New Era” on the field than with a local derby against a quality Super League side as we prepare for our 2018 Championship campaign.
“I’d like to thank Salford’s CEO Ian Blease for facilitating this fixture. Ian and I have communicated regularly in recent months and I look forward to building the relationship further in the future for the benefit of not only our respective clubs but the sport of rugby league as a whole and with a view to adding value in our communities.”
Salford Red Devils Head Coach, Ian Watson, said: “Swinton are a strong side who are heading into their third consecutive season in the Championship.
“With Stuart Littler as Coach they’ll continue to develop next season and will definitely cause a lot of the Championship sides issues in 2018.
“We know they’ll offer us a real stern test in preparation for our 2018 Super League season and it’ll be a great occasion for the City of Salford.”
Swinton Lions head coach, and former Red Devil, Stuart Littler said: “Delighted with the announcement of our opening 2018 friendly game at Salford. This is a massive game for the rugby league community and brings back the traditional derby game rivalry. Salford is a club that is special to me and somewhere that I made many special memories.
“We are looking forward to challenging ourselves against a top eight Super League team. Salford come off the back of a superb season in which Ian Watson has shown what a great coach he is.
“Can I personally thank the Salford fans who joined forces with our own fans in our hour of need last season. That is what is special about the Rugby League community and what separates our game from others. The help will be forever remembered by all at our historic club.
“Personally, I am looking forward to my first pre-season in charge and the pre-season friendly programme gives us both an opportunity to look at our players as well as the chance to test out new systems and processes.”
Salford are set to announce at least one more pre-season friendly in the coming weeks. Ticket information for the game against Swinton will also be released in due course.