Five Super League burning questions: Castleford-Huddersfield pressure, Hull FC and more

Aaron Bower

Round Four of Super League 2024 gets underway on Thursday night with Hull KR’s game against Warrington, and there are plenty of talking points going into all six games this weekend.

Here, Love Rugby League takes a look at the burning questions we’ve got on our mind as the table starts to take shape and the prospects of all 12 clubs begins to look a little clearer.

Could this be the game where Wigan’s energy levels drop?

It’s safe to say the reigning world champions weren’t quite at their best last weekend against Huddersfield Giants. But Wigan would have been riding on the crest of an emotional wave going into that game and despite people discussing notions of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’, they would have no doubt still been on a high.

But St Helens‘ response to winning the World Club Challenge last year showed it’s perhaps the games after that, when the euphoria starts to fade, when things become an issue. That may well be the case this weekend for the Warriors as they head to the capital to face London Broncos. Naturally, they should have more than enough to beat the Broncos: but it’ll be interesting to see how they fare.

Can Leigh’s smaller squad cope?

Everyone know that the Leopards are running with a smaller squad than some of their Super League rivals, even with a concerted effort in the off-season to boost that depth. But it’s already being tested severely ahead of only their third game of the new season.

Leigh host Leeds on Friday night looking to get their first win of the new campaign. But they will be without the likes of Edwin Ipape, Tom Briscoe and John Asiata for a prolonged period, meaning opportunities will now present themselves for some of the fringe players the Leopards recruited in the winter. Can their stretched squad do enough to get up and running?

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Is Castleford and Huddersfield game of the weekend?

We certainly think so. There’s plenty of intrigue surrounding the West Yorkshire derby between the Giants and the Tigers on Friday evening, with Castleford looking for their first win and Huddersfield looking to get over back-to-back defeats in the last fortnight.

The Tigers will have earmarked this game as one where they could potentially get up and running after a tricky start, while Huddersfield will have also pencilled it in as an opportunity to show they can push for the play-offs this season. It has all the hallmarks of an early-season four-pointer.

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How much pressure is the loser of that game under?

Granted, it’s still very early in the season – but you wonder what the narrative will be surrounding the loser of Friday night’s game at The Jungle. As mentioned, Castleford need a first win under Craig Lingard sooner, rather than later – while defeat here for Huddersfield would no doubt amplify the focus on Ian Watson’s side.

That’s not to say that the losing head coach is under any sort of significant pressure, but as both clubs know, a slow start in Super League can leave you too far behind the chasing pack.

Do Hull FC need a performance arguably more than a result?

There was a palpable sense of relief last weekend as Hull FC got up and running at the third attempt, after sneaking past London Broncos with a last-gasp Morgan Smith try.

The Black and Whites head to Perpignan on Saturday afternoon and while there’s not much expectation on them to get a result there, there is perhaps a need for Hull fans to see a performance of some note. Well-beaten in the derby on the opening night and at Warrington, and underwhelming against London, a performance is perhaps just as important as the result this weekend.

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