St Helens to face Widnes in first match at new stadium

Image of proposed new Saints stadium
Saints spent a year in exile at Widnes while their new stadium was being built

Neighbours Widnes, who hosted all St Helens' home games last season, will provide the opposition for Saints' first match at their brand new stadium.

"We're delighted to welcome Widnes to our new home," said St Helens coach Royce Simmons.

"It's a thank you for their help and hospitality last season."

Saints may use the pre-season Karalius Cup friendly on 20 January to blood new signings Anthony Laffranchi, Lance Hohaia and Mark Flanagan.

The regular pre-season meeting between the two neighbours will take on added significance as Widnes will use the game as a major part of their preparations for their return to Super League - after a seven-year absence.

"I don't think I've ever equated the words Rugby League and friendly in the same sentence," said Widnes coach Denis Betts. "I've no doubt whatsoever that it'll be a real contest.

"Given the game is just a couple of weeks away from our 2012 Super League opener, going head to head with such quality opposition will also give us a greater understanding of how our pre-season has gone and where we're at."

The match is part of the procedure Saints must go through at their new stadium before receiving a safety certificate.

Capacity will be limited and an initial batch of 10,000 tickets will be on sale.