Sam Burgess’ appointment at Warrington Wolves has added huge intrigue to Super League as the competition’s great underachievers bid to finally become crowned champions.
Not since 1955 have the Wire been able to call themselves kings of the British game, a drought which has led rival fans with taunts of ‘just like the last one, it’s always your year!’.
Many coaches have tried, and failed, to deliver the Super League trophy to the Halliwell Jones Stadium trophy cabinet.
Tony Smith and Steve Price went close while Daryl Powell finished second-bottom in his first season in charge before being axing midway through his second.
Now into the breach has stepped the imposing figure of Burgess, a man rated as arguably the greatest forward of his generation.
His coaching experience is limited – he served as assistant at South Sydney Rabbitohs – but hopes are high that he can engineer a major improvement at Warrington in 2024.
Exclusive: Martin Offiah delivers verdict on Warrington Wolves’ title chances under Sam Burgess
The team the Wolves will have to topple are Wigan Warriors, who beat Catalans Dragons in last season’s Grand Final to continue their impressive rise under Matt Peet.
Legendary Cherry and Whites winger Martin Offiah told Love Rugby League: “It’ll be interesting to see what Sam Burgess can do at Warrington Wolves this coming season.
“He was a fantastic player but fantastic players don’t necessarily make fantastic coaches. Nevertheless, I think his appointment is great for our game and will bring great interest to the Super League.
“It’s a fantastic coup for Warrington and good luck to Sam because as a club they have been in the doldrums for the last couple of years.”
Powell enjoyed a hugely successful tenure in charge of Castleford Tigers, guiding them to three major finals, but his time at Warrington simply did not work.
“My ex-Great Britain team-mate, Mr Powell, took the train set apart at Warrington and then didn’t really manage to put it together again,” added Offiah.
“That showed with the likes of Josh Charnley and a lot of good players leaving, so I feel for Warrington a little bit.
“Now it’s time for them to rebuild under Burgess and it will be intriguing to see what he can do as the youngest coach in Super League. He could be the right fit.”
Legendary winger Offiah believes a ‘good start will be important’ for Leeds Rhinos while Leigh Leopards can dispel ‘one-season wonder’ tag
Leeds Rhinos look ripe for a season of significant improvement after an ambitious close-season recruitment drive while Wigan’s bitter rivals St Helens must move forward without James Roby and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook following their retirement.
Catalans and Leigh Leopards enjoyed fine campaigns last term as did Hull KR.
Offiah, who scored 186 tries in 159 appearances for Wigan, enthused: “Everyone will be interested to see whether the Leigh Leopards were a one-season wonder.
“They were fantastic last season and obviously won the Challenge Cup for the first time in 52 years, which was a huge achievement.
“I still think St Helens will be there or thereabouts and Leeds Rhinos have a very shrewd operator in Gary Hetherington. A club of that size and stature have to be there or thereabouts, especially with the signings they have made.
“A good start will be important because if that doesn’t happen then pressure starts to build and people ask why it’s not working.
“But Leeds look strong on paper and it’s great to have London Broncos back in the mix, which adds a national flavour to the game.
“I don’t know how strong they’re going to be and survival will be their number-one goal.”