Former Sky Sports rugby league expert Eddie Hemmings has hailed 2023 as a ‘fantastic’ season so far in Super League, and has shared a bold prediction for the play-offs.
Steve McNamara’s Catalans Dragons currently sit at the top of the table on points difference, having lost just four all season in the first half of the year.
Warrington hold the same record with 22 points and sit just behind, with Leigh and Salford both picking up 10 wins to claim spots third and fourth respectively.
The bottom six places all belong to Yorkshire teams, with St Helens and Wigan taking the final respective spots in the play-offs.
And Hemmings, who officially retired back in 2019 after a distinguished career for Sky Sports, believes Rohan Smith’s Leeds will not make the top six by the end of the campaign.
The Rhinos find themselves in the middle of an awful run, having become the first team to lose to ‘Super League’s worst-ever’ Wakefield in 2023 as Mark Applegarth claimed his first two Super League points as head coach of the club.
Leeds have lost six of their last seven games in all competitions, having been knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Wigan at Headingley Stadium in the sixth round.
They impressed in a 40-18 victory over Matt Peet’s side in Super League the week prior with a 40-18 triumph at the DW Stadium in May, but have since lost to Castleford as well as the dramatic golden point defeat at home against St Helens.
Having reached the Grand Final last year under Smith, who turned around the club’s form upon his mid-season arrival from Australia, Leeds sit in eighth position in the current campaign, having claimed just six wins from 15.
Leeds Rhinos won’t make top six says Hemmings
“What a fantastic season. Look at the top six, for a start,” Hemmings said on the recent episode of Betfred’s The Last Tackle.
“I just wonder, if I’d have come to you at the start of the season and said ‘I want £10 on Leigh to be third and Salford to be fourth, and both of them within a whisker of getting to the Challenge Cup semi-final all by round 15,’ what sort of odds would you have been able to give me? It would have been off the scale!
“Hasn’t it been a breath of fresh air to see teams like that making it into the play-off positions?
“Warrington started like a house on fire. Catalans Dragons have taken over and have come back again after a dip in form.
“Saints are just in the top six. They’re going really, really well.
“And Leeds, they’re not going to make the play-offs this year. They’re not going to make the top six.
“It’s an amazing season and it’s just what we want.”
Hemmings also shared his admiration for Paul Wellens’ Saints, who are now just four points from the top with a game in hand following a slow start to the 2023 Super League campaign.
“Never write off the Saints,” he added.