28th March 2017, 19:48 | wheelchair

2017 WhRL season preview

2017 WhRL season preview

By John Seager

The 2017 Wheelchair RL season kicks off on Saturday with an exciting year in prospect.

Halifax will kick off their title defence at home to Medway Dragons on Sunday at 1pm, while North Wales Crusaders travel to face Leeds Rhinos in the second Premier Divison clash of the day.

Halifax will be looking to defend the title they won in a dramatic final against Leeds Rhinos, but the Rhinos will be bolstered with the news that four of their players have made the England training squad for the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Medway Dragons will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2017, as North Wales head into the new campaign after an encouraging 2016 season which saw them claim a number of scalps.

In the WhRL South Development League, defending champions Gravesend Dynamite will be hoping to retain their title.

Medway Park will host the WhRL Grand Final in September

Leeds Rhinos were beaten in both the Challenge Cup and Grand Final last season

Jason Owen's side - who will be looking to develop the sport further by moving the game into London and Essex, as the Argonauts based out of Dartford make their bow.

The Argonauts are a new team who have benefited from the help from Gravesend and both teams will also be competing against Hereford Harriers and Medway Dragons A.

In the WhRL North League, Rochdale Hornets join the league for the first time.

They will be joined by Mersey Storm and Leyland Warriors as well as Keighley Cougars and Hull FC - a strong line-up which looks set to be a close battle for the title.

Alongside the Challenge Cup, this year also sees the annual Celtic Cup being played and in July the WhRL World Cup will be played in France with the hosts looking to defend the title after beating England in the 2013 finale.