James and Drew have had a go at predicting their 1-12 in Super League – let us know yours in the comments below.
1 St Helens (Grand Final winners)
There’s an element of doubt with Saints due to them having a new coach in Kristian Woolf, but having kept all of their squad from last season, it’s a hell of a big step for the others to climb to usurp them. They may regret not adding at least one new face to keep things fresh, but time will tell. They’re still my favourites to win the whole thing again.
2 Wigan Warriors
They recovered from a turbulent first half of 2019 to go in to the play-offs with hope, and even though it ended prematurely against Salford, Adrian Lam will have been more than encouraged. He has added genuine superstar quality in Jackson Hastings and George Burgess, and Bevan French could prove to be one of the competition’s most exciting talents.
3 Warrington Wolves
A good start is crucial for the Wolves, who suffered a dismal second half of last season which was only saved by their Wembley win. They lost eight of their last nine games, and haven’t won back to back games since the start of June. On paper, as always, they should be up there. Whether they can get that monkey off their back and become champions for the first time since 1955 remains to be seen, Steve Price may well find himself under pressure if they get off to a poor start.
4 Hull FC
If Hull can find some consistency, and it’s a big if, there’s no reason why Hull can’t put themselves right in the mix for all three trophies. They have recruited strongly in the outside backs and the pack, and perhaps the fitness of their pivots will be the key to their success. After failing to make the play-offs in each of the last two seasons, it may be now or never for some of their squad.
5 Leeds Rhinos
Predicted Leeds to do well last year, and was woefully underwhelmed. They shouldn’t be embroiled in a relegation battle again, and they have worked to steady the ship and rebuild. Luke Gale is a risk, having not played for 18 months, but at the same time, he could prove just the asset they need to lead them out of the transition phase.
6 Castleford Tigers
A young, British half-back pairing of Danny Richardson and Jake Trueman, coached by three half-backs in Daryl Powell, Danny Orr and Ryan Sheridan who weren’t bad themselves, could well provide years of entertainment down Wheldon Road. They’ve been up there under Powell for a number of years now, and the challenge is to keep evolving to stay up there. Will the lack of an experienced head at half-back hurt them? And who will get all the tries? They should still be in the play-off reckoning.
7 Toronto Wolfpack
Clearly squad depth is an issue for Toronto, and it will be interesting to see how they deal with even a handful of injuries. Brian McDermott has a proven track record and they have got plenty of quality in their squad; as well as a number of players back in Super League with points to prove. Home advantage is going to be crucial, and if they can win the majority of their home games, that should move them away from any fear of relegation.
8 Salford Red Devils
I’m not sure Salford fans will mind being written off again, as they really thrived on that underdog tag last season. They have lost a number of their key men from last season, though the retention of Ian Watson at least means he has a chance to prove last year wasn’t a mere one off. Tui Lolohea could be the stand out player that Leeds thought they’d signed, and although Kevin Brown is in the autumn of his career, the way he’s rotated with Chris Atkin could prove a masterstroke for the Red Devils.
9 Catalans Dragons
We seem to say every year that Catalans really ought to be competing at the top, but they struggle for consistency. The controversial signing of Israel Folau may prove clever on the pitch, but key for them is to turn the Stade Gilbert Brutus back in to the fortress it once was. They suffered far too many defeats on home soil last season, and heavy ones at that.
10 Huddersfield Giants
The young talent at Huddersfield will be led by Aiden Sezar, a stellar signing made by Simon Woolford. If their young guns can punch above their weight, Huddersfield should do better than many expected, and I wanted to put them higher in my predictions. They need to become tougher to beat, and give the platform for their exciting talent to shine.
11 Wakefield Trinity
The reality is that any of the mid-table teams could finish anywhere from fourth downwards. Wakefield are a team that are impossible to predict. Injuries will play their part for all teams involving, I just feel that others around them have got stronger. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trinity leave me with egg on my face, though.
12 Hull KR
Tony Smith has a job on his hands this year. He has lost players through injury already, and there is a heavy reliance on youngsters in their squad. The underdog mentality may suit them, but it may well be a long season in East Hull.
1 St Helens
St Helens won the league by 16 points last year and were simply incredible under then coach Justin Holbrook. It will be interesting to see whether their style of play changes much under newbie Kristian Woolf – but they have got to be the favourites because of how well they played last year.
2 Warrington Wolves
Warrington have been the big spenders in Super League for a couple of years now, and their marquee coup of NRL superstar Gareth Widdop puts them up there for their first Super League crown. Widdop’s half-back combination with fellow marquee man Blake Austin could be mouth-watering.
3 Wigan Warriors (Grand Final winners)
The Warriors were forced to go through a tough 2019, with the Shaun Edwards saga taking its toll midway through the campaign. Adrian Lam’s side turned their fortunes around and finished the season by reaching the semi-finals. With the high-profile signings of Man of Steel Jackson Hastings and George Burgess, I think they will go all the way this season.
4 Hull FC
I’ve been really impressed with the way Hull have recruited over the off-season. We can be excited about the “Tongan Terminator” Manu Ma’u coming to Super League as he was one of the best back-rowers in the NRL last season. I’m a fan of big wingers, so the return of Mahe Fonua excites me. Hull can have a big year if they put their minds to it.
5 Salford Red Devils
A lot of people seem to be writing Salford off this year but I still expect them to be there or thereabouts in the top five. The Red Devils had a lot of their top players cherrypicked before they even reached the Grand Final last term but that disruption didn’t matter in the end. Pound for pound, Ian Watson is one of the best coaches in the game and his Salford side are always competitive. Luke Yates is a massive coup for them.
6 Castleford Tigers
I think Castleford will run Salford really close to the fifth and final spot in the play-offs, but I reckon they’ll just miss out to the Red Devils. Daryl Powell’s side have been great to watch for a number of years now and Danny Richardson’s signature will put bums on seats. Sparks could fly for the Tigers if Richardson works up a good combination with Jake Trueman. I think Castleford should target the Challenge Cup this year.
7 Leeds Rhinos
It is still going to take Leeds a couple of seasons to get back to the force they once were. Making Stevie Ward club captain is a very good decision from the club as he is Rhinos through and through. Signing Luke Gale is a huge gamble for Leeds as he has not played a competitive game for 18 months but there is no doubting his ability when fully fit. If the former Man of Steel can build up a solid combination with Rob Lui in the halves then they could be cheeky outsiders.
8 Catalans Dragons
It’s the same old story for Catalans. On paper, their team is splendid and you would certainly think ‘they could do it this year’ – but their away form continues to let them down every season. You wouldn’t back against the Dragons many times when they play in Perpignan – but you also wouldn’t back them many times on English soil. James Maloney is a real coup for the competition and he will be a delight to watch this year, but I just can’t see them making the play-offs.
9 Wakefield Trinity
I’ve genuinely enjoyed watching Wakefield over the last couple of years and I felt for them last year when they had to endure that torrid injury crisis. They’ve got a decent squad again this time around but I don’t envisage them being in the play-offs alongside the aforementioned big names. With Trinity, it seems to be a case of ‘David versus Goliath’ every year, and they’ll certainly stun a couple of the big boys. I think they’ll avoid relegation easily this term.
10 Huddersfield Giants
I like the look of Huddersfield’s 1-17 this year and I believe they have more strength in depth than what they have had in previous seasons. The Giants have a promising crop of youngsters coming through, and I’m a big fan of Matty English and Oliver Wilson – they could actually go on to earn international honours in future years. Aidan Sezer is a much needed recruit from Huddersfield after Matt Frawley’s disappointing spell in England. I think they’ll be safe.
11 Toronto Wolfpack
Deciding on where I was going to tip Toronto was by far the toughest choice in my predictions. Their 1-17 is pretty strong but they lack depth and if they get four or five injuries then they could be in serious trouble. The Canadian club should be applauded for managing to lure Sonny Bill Williams to Super League, and I’m looking forward to watching Andy Ackers in Super League as he has killed it in the Championship over the last couple of years. But with the Wolfpack only having 23 players in their squad, I think they’ll have a tough ride this year.
12 Hull KR
Hull KR have had the biggest turnaround of players ahead of 2020, and the Robins’ recruitment department has been incredibly busy. Shaun Kenny-Dowall has struggled with injuries in the NRL over the last couple of years but the Kiwi is a sensational player on his day, so he could be shrewd pick up for Tony Smith’s men. They’ve got a very young squad this year and that could go one or two ways, the youngsters could prove fruitful or they could crumble. I think Hull KR will be the unfortunate club to be relegated.