Super League Round 1 talking points: Magic Mikey, Slammin’ Sam (Lisone), Huddersfield Giants…

Aaron Bower
Super League Round 1 talking points Alamy

Leroy Cudjoe in action for Huddersfield Giants

It was a busy opening round in Super League, with no shortage of talking points, a surprise victory and one or two eye-catching displays from some teams.

As will become tradition throughout the 2024 season, Love Rugby League has taken a look at every game and picked out a major talking point from each – starting with Thursday’s season-opener between Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers…

Magic Mikey does it again

There were no shortage of talking points from Thursday’s Hull derby – many of which we covered in here. But another standout performance came via Hull Kingston Rovers half-back Mikey Lewis, who showed again why he is one of the most effective players in Super League.

Few have the ability to decide a game like Lewis, who was far from outstanding for the full 80 minutes, but showed supreme class in the big moments to help swing the derby Hull KR’s way when it truly mattered. Already a full England international, Willie Peters’ decision to allow Jordan Abdull to move on in the off-season underlines how much trust he has in Lewis. If he flourishes even further this year, Rovers could well have one of the best halves in the competition on their books.

Have we slept on Huddersfield Giants?

Granted, nothing is won or lost in round one of the new season. But it’s fair to say that having been largely written off by everyone going into 2024, Huddersfield Giants produced the surprise result of the opening round.

Their victory at Leigh certainly stood out among the rest, with Ian Watson’s side producing an accomplished display to defeat a side many expect to be pushing for the play-offs once again. The likes of Esan Marsters and Jack Murchie really stood out, to get Huddersfield off to a winning start.

Could they be the surprise package this year?

NOW READ: The standout statistics behind Huddersfield Giants’ win at Leigh Leopards as veterans make difference

Slammin’ Sam (Lisone) set for a big year

Leeds narrowly snuck past Salford Red Devils on Friday night, with big performances on both sides. One player who caught the eye? Rhinos prop Sam Lisone.

It wasn’t the best debut season for Lisone at Headingley, with injuries and stop-start performances hampering his 2023 campaign. But the early showings from Lisone on Friday suggest he could be in for a much better second season in Super League. Lisone made a real impact for the Rhinos and at a time when they are without frontline forwards including Tom Holroyd, he was one of several who stepped up. If Rohan Smith can get the best out of Lisone, Leeds have one helluva forward.

A new local hero at St Helens

Matt Whitley St Helens Alamy Matt Whitley scores on his St Helens debut

It was a straightforward start to the season for St Helens as they defeated London Broncos 40-4. All eyes were perhaps on Daryl Clark’s first competitive game in a Saints shirt as they begin life after James Roby: but it was another debutant who caught the eye.

Paul Wellens described Matt Whitley’s debut as ‘first class’, and it’s not difficult to see why. His journey to a maiden St Helens appearance is a special one; let go by the club as a scholarship player before beginning his career at Widnes and then establishing himself as a top Super League forward at Catalans, you can imagine how much it would have meant to him to walk out in a Saints shirt. Judging by the fan reaction too, it appears they have a new local hero to get behind.

RELATED: Daryl Clark debut in focus: St Helens recruit gets off to a dazzling start 

Sam Burgess’ Warrington a work in progress

Some positive, some negative. That’s a breakdown of Sam Burgess’ opening game as Warrington Wolves head coach.

The Wire fell to defeat in Perpignan against Catalans Dragons, despite Steve McNamara’s side losing Michael McIlorum to a red card during that game. Burgess admitted afterwards that his side are very much a work in progress – and having only had one real hit-out in pre-season for his senior players, it’s not difficult to share that view.

There is a sense Saturday was a missed opportunity for the Wolves given the man advantage they ultimately had: but it was already clear in the run-up to the season from Burgess’ comments that it will take time to put his stamp on his team.

Optimism amidst the chaos for Castleford Tigers

Of course, the headlines coming out of Castleford’s defeat to Wigan on Saturday evening were all based around the disciplinary issues that engulfed the game.

But away from that, Castleford fans would have left The Jungle with some cautious optimism for the season ahead. Yes, they ultimately slipped to what was a comfortable defeat in terms of the scoreline, having played well over half the game without Liam Watts’ services.

But prior to that, they were certainly competitive against the reigning champions and even managed to hold their own. They will come up against teams with far less strike in the weeks ahead, and will be quietly confident they can surprise a few this season.

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