St Helens still title favourites: Ominous warning for Super League pacesetters

Josh McAllister
Paul Wellens, SWPix.

Former Great Britain international and current Sky Sports rugby league expert Brian Carney believes those above St Helens should be looking over their shoulder for the second half of the season.

The four-peat champions endured a slow start to the 2023 campaign following their World Club Challenge triumph over Penrith in Australia in February.

The world champions claimed a win on their return to England with a 24-6 score over Castleford, before suffering recently rare back-to-back defeats.

Wellens’ side have gone on to claim six wins from 11 so far in the current campaign and sit seventh on the Super League table behind Warrington, Wigan, Hull KR, Catalans, Leigh and Salford.

However, ex-dual Ireland international Carney has backed the side to turn their season around and claim their fifth straight Super League success. 

St Helens backed for more success despite slow start

“If I could put my boots back on again and get parachuted into a squad and have a chance of winning the title, I might pick St Helens,” Carney said live on Sky Sports ahead of Hull KR’s clash with Wigan. 

“If any of the sides above St Helens aren’t looking in the mirror, that is an articulated truck coming behind me. Nobody will want the Saints behind them.

“Paul Wellens, coaches are storytellers, he has now got a brilliant story to tell his side, ‘This is where we’re going to win it from. We have never won a title from seventh in May. This is what we’re doing to do as a group’.

“I would be very, very worried if I was any club ahead of St Helens in Super League at the moment.”

“At some point they’re going to click into gear.”

Leeds legend and Super League winner Barrie McDermott also shared the same view and has backed St Helens for a successful season, having recently cemented their place in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a win over Halifax.

St Helens made history in 2022 and claimed their status as the most successful team in the Super League era with their fourth consecutive Grand Final victory in a first-ever, taking their tally to a record ninth triumph.

The side defeated Leeds 24-12 last season at Old Trafford under then-head coach Kristian Woolf, who later departed for the Dolphins in the NRL and was replaced by St Helens legend and assistant Wellens ahead of 2023.

“At some point they’re going to click into gear and at some point it’s going to go right for them,” McDermott added. 

St Helens travel to Headingley Stadium on Friday for the mouth-watering rematch with Leeds, live on Sky Sports.

Rohan Smith’s Rhinos claimed a dramatic 25-24 victory in the reverse fixture in Round Three, with Blake Austin kicking the winning drop-goal.

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