The 2020 Super League play-offs have been brought forward to next week after Hull KR ended their season early on Tuesday because of a Covid-19 outbreak.
The minimum requirement for teams to play 15 games has been removed before a rescheduled six-team play-off series.
Wigan will now have the chance to win the League Leaders’ Shield should they defeat Huddersfield on Friday.
That will be the final game of the regular season, with the top six teams after this week’s set of fixtures qualifying for the play-offs. Whoever finishes in seventh place will remain on standby.
In light of imminent national lockdown measures in England, St Helens’ trip to Catalans Dragons, which had been scheduled for Thursday, has now been cancelled as both teams have already qualified for a top-six place.
Wakefield will take on Salford as planned on Friday, with the Red Devils still able to finish in seventh and therefore have an outside chance of reaching the play-offs if a top six team has to pull out.
The top two teams in Super League at the end of the regular season will sit out the first week of the play-offs, with the teams in third to sixth featuring in elimination matches to take place on 12 and 13 November.
The winners of those fixtures will take on the first and second-placed teams in the semi-finals on 19 and 20 November before the final at Hull’s KCOM Stadium on Friday, 27 November.
“Nothing has been predictable in this 2020 season and we hope players, supporters and the media will appreciate why we have made this change,” Super League’s head of commercial Rhodri Jones said.
“We believe this revised structure provides the best and fairest way to ensure the two most deserving teams reach the Grand Final.
“I’m sure everyone will be excited about five huge games, set to deliver an even more exciting climax to the 2020 season.”
The five clubs who finish outside of the play-off places this week will stay on their current win percentages, with their remaining fixtures then cancelled.
Super League votes in favour of 12 teams for 2021
Meanwhile, later on Tuesday, the Super League board voted unanimously in favour of returning to a 12-team, 27-round structure from next season.
The vote comes after Toronto Wolfpack’s proposed return was rejected on Monday, with the Canadian club looking to rejoin the top flight after having to withdraw due to financial concerns earlier this year.
Tuesday’s vote will now trigger a licensing process, with Championship and League One clubs bidding to take the place of Toronto.
The process and criteria for the selection of the 12th team is still to be decided however French side Toulouse, who were top of the Championship prior to the suspension of the 2020 season, confirmed on Tuesday they would bid.
“The process of choosing that twelfth team will start as soon as possible,” Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said.
“We are committed to ensuring that the process is independent and impartial, and stands up to scrutiny, and accordingly, ensuring the committee is properly constituted and clearly mandated is our first priority.”