League history will be made in Auckland next year, with the first NRL double-header to be staged outside Australia.

As first reported in the Herald on Sunday in July, the Warriors will share centre stage with three other NRL teams in one day at Mt Smart.

Across the space of a few hours on April 7, the Wests Tigers will take on Melbourne Storm at Mt Smart, before the Warriors face the North Queensland Cowboys later that evening.

It means that New Zealand league fans can see both teams that contested the 2017 Grand final, as well as the Tigers who have strong Kiwi links with Ben Matulino, Russell Packer, Tui Lolohea, Elijah Taylor and former Warriors coach Ivan Cleary.


Johnathan Thurston is expected to be on his season long farewell with the Cowboys, while former Kiwis' captain Benji Marshall could also appear for the Tigers.

Such a double bill has been a big success in Brisbane over the last two seasons, with 44,000 fans packing Suncorp Stadium this year, after a sell out in 2016.

Across the 22 year history of the Warriors a double header has never been tried in Auckland, but the club feels the time is right.

It's hoped the event will entice a significant number of visitors from outside Auckland and across the Tasman and the festival atmosphere created will also, in some way, fill the void left by the loss of the NRL Nines.

However, it means that the Warriors won't stage a home match outside Auckland in 2018, and the double header will be a separate ticket, not included in the 11 game season membership.
The event has taken months to put together, and the support of Auckland Council's events arm ATEED, as well as the Tigers (who agreed to bring one of their home games to Auckland) was vital.

"Jim (executive chairman Jim Doyle) has been working on the concept for some time with the NRL, Wests Tigers and ATEED ," said Warriors CEO Cameron George. "We're thrilled it has come together and combining with the Tigers is a really good fit for us."

The Warriors will also feature in a second double header next year, as they will play the Rabbitohs in Perth in round one, on the same day as the Bulldogs face the Storm in the West Australian capital.
The club has previously expressed their dissatisfaction with being scheduled to play in Perth, given it is the longest journey in the NRL.

It's a risk to play there again, as the travel demands could compromise their first two games of the season.

But travelling West in round one at least means they can travel earlier than they otherwise could in a regular week of the season, which will help to mitigate the effect of jet lag and travel.

There's also a recognition that any pleas around the scheduling could have fallen on deaf ears with the NRL, given the governing body's determination to promote the sport on the West Coast and the large expatriate New Zealand population there.

In total there will be four double headers in the NRL next season, staged in Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

NRL double headers in 2018

Rabbitohs v Warriors, Bulldogs v Storm, Perth Stadium, Round one, March 10.
Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles, Eels v Sharks, ANZ Stadium, Round three, March 24.
Tigers v Storm, Warriors v Cowboys, Mt Smart Stadium, Round five, April 7;
Storm v Titans, Sea Eagles v Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, Round 10, May 12.