Six players who could enjoy a breakthrough year in 2020

James Messenger

Here are six names we’ve tipped to make a serious impression on Super League in 2020.

Matty Ashton (Warrington Wolves) 

Warrington announced the signing of talented young outside back Ashton on a two-year deal ahead of 2020. He will presumably begin life as backup to Josh Charnley and Tom Lineham, but should either suffer injuries or suspension, expect Ashton to take his chance with real confidence.

Having signed from amateur side Rochdale Mayfield, the 21-year-old finished his first Betfred Championship season with 30 tries in 25 appearances, including five on his farewell Lions appearance. He was also named as the 2019 Betfred Championship Young Player of the Year.

Lee Kershaw (Wakefield Trinity)

Kershaw made a blistering start to life in a Wakefield jersey and, during his six first-team appearances up to now, has shown enough to be a more prominent part of Chris Chester’s plans in 2020.

The 20-year-old scored 10 minutes into his Trinity debut against Leeds in April and bagged once more in the Challenge Cup. He crossed five times in seven games on loan at League 1 Oldham and was rewarded with a new Wakefield deal back in June, running until the end of next season. Kershaw has pace to burn and averaged just under four tackle busts per game for Trinity, showing just what a useful asset he can be with ball in hand.

Elliot Minchella (Hull KR)

With over 130 career appearances to his name – the majority of which came in the Betfred Championship – it was only a matter of time before Minchella was given his chance in the top flight. The 23-year-old managed 12 tries and 37 goals in 30 appearances for Bradford last year, helping him earn a move to the Robins for 2020.

He was one of five Bulls players who made the move to Humberside in the off-season, and out of all those players, Minchella would be most likely to make a serious dent on Super League. Aside from his generally consistent attacking play, Minchella’s goal-kicking ability might also come in handy, given that regular conversion-takers Ryan Shaw, Craig Hall and Josh Drinkwater have all left the club in the off-season.

Arthur Mourgue (Catalans Dragons)

Mourgue was handed his sole Dragons first-team appearance of 2019 in the final game of the regular season against Huddersfield, but one try, one assist and 10 tackle busts later, he will surely have boosted his chances of a more regular role in 2020. The quick-thinking half-back came through the ranks at feeder club Saint-Esteve Catalan, making his only other top-flight appearance against Warrington in 2018.

The 20-year-old also featured for France at the recent 9s World Cup, and following the acquisition of NRL winner James Maloney and Challenge Cup winner Josh Drinkwater, this seems like the perfect opportunity for Mourgue to learn from the best and become more integrated in the Dragons setup.

Aaron Smith (St Helens)

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Smith already make somewhat of an impression on the Saints first-team last year, but with 34-year-old James Roby’s game time reducing slightly since signing a contract extension, 2020 could be the year that the young hooker really stakes a claim for a starting role.

Smith scored three tries in 16 appearances for Saints last year, as well as crossing once in five games during a brief stint at Leigh earlier in the year. The 23-year-old spent time on loan at York, Hull KR and Featherstone earlier in a career, but with a number of professional games now under his belt, Saints’ number 19 is surely ready for a more prominent Super League gig.

Tom Holroyd (Leeds Rhinos)

Holroyd made three substitute appearances for the Rhinos back in March, taking his total number of first-team outings for Leeds up to five. Despite being 18 years of age, the prop forward has already started to grow into his sizeable physique, and more first-team appearances will surely enhance his development.

Holroyd has also enjoyed success on the international front, helping the England Academy to a 2-0 series win over the Australian Schoolboys in 2018.