Sky Sports has strengthened its position as the home of rugby league, with the return of regular NRL matches for the first time in over a decade.

The new five-year-deal means that, from this season, Sky Sports will show close to 200 rugby league matches per year, double last year’s total, offering customers the biggest season of rugby league ever.

The deal includes:

· Three NRL Telstra Premiership weekly matches per round

· NRL Telstra Premiership finals series and Grand Final

· Holden State of Origin Series

· And further action from the southern hemisphere including the Nines Tournament, NRL All Stars and Trans-Tasman, Pacific Test and Australian Test matches

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports said: Sky Sports is the home of rugby league, and the addition of NRL brings the global game to our customers.

We have the best of both hemispheres for Sky Sports Action and Arena to deliver every thrilling moment of one of the toughest leagues in world sport.

Todd Greenberg, NRL CEO added: We’re delighted that Sky Sports will be showcasing rugby league to this extent in 2018 and beyond.

Our aim is always to ensure that as many people as possible are able to watch rugby league, and this deal will further ensure that the NRL Premiership, as well as many more of our elite competitions and games, will get the audience they deserve.

The NRL season kicks off on March 8, with Sky’s first-pick televised games live on Saturday, March 10.

Customers can tune in from 8am to see South Sydney Rabbitohs against the New Zealand Warriors, followed by 2017 champions Melbourne Storm beginning their title-defence against the Canterbury Bulldogs.

But live rugby league has already begun on Sky Sports with the start of the Super League season.

This week, Leeds Rhinos are in action against newly promoted Hull KR, followed by Wakefield Trinity against Salford Red Devils in Sky’s Thursday and Friday picks.

Watch all the rugby league action on the Sky Sports Action and Arena channels, which also features the best matches from the NFL, netball Superleague, tennis, darts, boxing, rugby union, WWE and more.

(c) Sky News 2018: Sky Sports sign five-year deal to show regular NRL matches