A preview of the upcoming Super League season.
The new season is almost ready to get underway. 12 teams will go head-to-head over the coming months, battling to secure a place in the playoffs, and ultimately the chance to play in the season finale at Old Trafford. This season promises to be the most exciting in history. Which team will be holding the super league trophy come the end of the season?
Castleford Tigers. The appointment of Daryl Powell in 2013 invigorated the Tigers. He guided the team to a fourth place finish in the 2014 season, which is the highest position for Castleford in the super league era. They will be looking to finish even higher this time around. The departure of Justin Carney is a big loss for the club. Joel Monaghan has been brought in as his replacement, and the crafty winger has everything it requires to be a big hit for his new club. Ryan Hampshire has also made the move to the tigers for the coming season. They will once again be a dangerous team, who on their day can beat anyone. Predicted position 6th.
Catalan Dragons have made big changes to their playing squad, with eight new arrivals. If they can gel together as a team, I believe this could be a big year for the French club. New recruits Pat Richards, Glenn Stewart and Paul Aiton will provide valuable experience. The signing of Richie Myler could prove to be a masterstroke, if he can add consistency to his game. Add to that the signings of Justin Horo and David Taylor, from the NRL. Catalan have an exciting squad on paper. If they improve their away form, this could be their best ever season in super league. There are exciting times ahead for the French club. Predicted position 7th
Huddersfield Giants are one of the most consistent teams in the competition. In recent years they have challenged at the top of the table, winning the league leaders shield in 2013. Can they go one better this season by reaching the grand final? The loss of Brett Ferres to rivals Leeds Rhinos will be a big blow. The arrival of Ryan Hinchcliffe from Melbourne Storm, could help fill that void. He has over 150 NRL appearances to his name, and is highly regarded in Australia. New Zealander Sam Rapira will add firepower to the Giants front line. Defensively they have been superb under coach Paul Anderson. Predicted Position 5th
Hull FC are the perennial underachievers in super league. They will be hoping that this season will see a turn in fortunes. The club has the potential to challenge for silverware. The arrival of Frank Pritchard from the Canterbury Bulldogs is a massive coup. With his arrival brings much needed optimism to the KC stadium. If they’re to be fighting it out at the top of the table this season, much will depend on how they go about improving their attack. As defensively they’re solid. The loss of Tom Lineham and Joe Westerman, both to Warrington Wolves, will be a blow. An improvement on last seasons 8th place finish would be a success. Predicted position 8th.
Hull KR had a mixed year last time around. A disappointing campaign in super league was overshadowed by their challenge cup run. Where they reached the final. This season they will be targeting the play off places. Coach Chris Chester will be hoping to see his players regain the form that took them to the challenge cup final. The signing of Shaun Lunt could prove crucial. If they can get some momentum early on in the season, a play off place come the end of the year is a possibility. Albert Kelly was one of the best players in the competition last season, if he can replicate that once again, Hull KR have a good chance of improving on last time around. Predicted position 10th
Last season’s champions Leeds Rhinos have a new look about their squad. The likes of Kevin Sinfield, and Jamie Peacock are no longer at the club. The squad this year still looks strong. The arrival of Keith Galloway, Beau Falloon, and Brett Ferres, will freshen things up at the Yorkshire club. Coach Brian Mcdermott will face a tough task to repeat last seasons achievements. Winning the treble (super league, challenge cup and, league leaders shield). If any club can do it, its Leeds. They have some excellent young players at the club who will be hoping to make a name for themselves, I expect more responsibility to be placed on them in the coming season. Predicted Position 3rd
Salford Red Devils are the most unpredictable side in super league. They look good every season on paper, but fall short of expectations on the pitch. This season needs to be different if people are to start taking them seriously. There have been big changes to the playing squad once again. Out go Rangi Chase, Theo Fages, and Ben Jones Bishop. Replaced by the likes of Justin Carney, Robert Lui, Daniel Vidot, and Josh Jones (back from rugby union). In recent years the big money signings haven’t gelled as a team, and results have been poor. They have the potential to compete with the big clubs, but have been nowhere close to them in recent years. Will this season be any different? Predicted position 9th
St Helens will once again be dangerous. A team that is consistently challenging at the top of the table. This season should be no different. The team will be largely unchanged from last year. Theo Fages joins from Salford, which should add more creativity. The club usually relies on young homegrown players to come through the ranks. They have some exciting talents in their midst once again, including Alex Walmsley and Adam Swift. Coach Keiron Cunningham knows the club inside out, which could prove vital. Expectations will be high, improving on last seasons performance is essential. Can they book a place at Old Trafford for what would be the eighth time in eleven years? Predicted position 2nd
Wakefield Wildcats suffered a disappointing campaign last time around. They have been busy recruiting players to help them improve on last season’s league position. Ben Jones Bishop joins the club from Salford. Liam Finn could prove to be an important acquisition As could former Cronulla Sharks pair, Anthony Tupou and Tinirau Arona. Will it be enough to improve on last season, and avoid finishing bottom of the table once again? Brian Smith is an experienced coach who knows how to win at the highest level. If he can get his team to play his style, Wakefields fortunes on the field could well change for the better. Predicted position 12th
Warrington Wolves promise a lot at the start of every super league campaign. It is time that they start performing consistently, and bring the super league trophy to the Halliwell Jones Stadium. They have purchased some quality players in the off-season. Kurt Gidley arrives from Australia, as does Mitchell Dodds. The experience of these two players could take Warrington to the next level. With the squad the wolves have assembled, nothing short of challenging for the super league trophy will be acceptable. They have proven over recent years that they can beat anyone with the squad at their disposal. Predicted position 4th
Widnes Vikings are a decent team, who compete on a small budget. They always do just enough to retain their super league status. If they can do the same again this season, it would be another successful campaign for coach Dennis Betts and his men. The signings of Chris Bridge and Setaimata Sa will add valuable experience to the squad. They may not be able to compete with the big teams at the top of the table, but if they can win the games against the teams around them, improving on last seasons position is a possibility. Consistency will be the key for Widnes. Predicted position 11th
Wigan Warriors came so close to ending the last campaign by winning the main prize. They will be desperate to come out on top this time around. The return of Sam Tomkins will be huge for the club. If he can play to his potential, he could lead Wigan back to Old Trafford. The squad will be similar to last seasons. Exciting young prospects such as Dom Manfredi and George Williams, will have a big part to play for the warriors. The disappointment of losing in last season’s grand final could drive them on to go one better this time around. Coach Shaun Wane is guaranteed to get the best from his players, so anything is possible. Predicted position 1st