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2023 Pre-Season Challenge: Everything you need to know

Expansive game play with an emphasis on attacking football awaits when the inaugural NRL Pre-Season Challenge kicks off next month, with a $100,000 payday up for grabs for the winning club. 

Bonus points rewarding teams for scoring tries, making line breaks and offloading will add another dimension to the competition, which will be played over two rounds between February 9-19 and provide NRL fans with their first taste of club football for 2023. 

In addition to being the first chance to see off-season recruits run out in their new colours, the Pre-Season Challenge will mark the competitive debut for the NRL's newest franchise the Dolphins.

Super League champions St Helens will also take part to make it an 18-team competition, with their second match against the reigning NRL premiers the Panthers doubling up as the World Club Challenge. 

The Saints are coming!

The rules

Games will be played over 80 minutes as normal, but with clubs able to field as many as 28 players in week-one matches and up to 26 in week-two matches, with unlimited interchanges at their disposal in both weeks. 

The NRL Bunker will be in use in all matches, while games which are tied at the end of regular time will be declared a draw, with no golden point to be played. 

The points

The addition of bonus points to go alongside points earned by winning or drawing a match will ensure teams have something to play for in every contest, no matter what's happening on the scoreboard. 

Alongside points accumulated through results, the number of bonus points a team can snare each game could make all the difference on what is sure to be a congested ladder. 

The club with the most points at the conclusion of the two rounds will be declared the winner of the Pre-Season Challenge and claim the $100,000 in prize money.

Tiebreaker process 

Given the short duration of the Pre-Season Challenge, there is a good chance the winner will have to be decided via a count back, and the NRL has devised a system to find a winner should teams finish tied on points at the top of the ladder. 

World Club Challenge 

The World Club Challenge clash between the Panthers and St Helens on February 18 will be part of the Pre-Season Challenge for both sides, and they'll be able to earn both result points and bonus points in the encounter.

But it will be played under slightly different rules to the other 17 matches, with game-day squads capped at 17 players, with an 18th player to be activated if a team loses two or more players to a failed Head Injury Assessment.

Each side will have 10 interchanges each, and if scores are tied at the end of 80 minutes the game will go to golden point.

The title of world's best is on the line!

The games

Round 1 

Round 2

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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