Sun. Jun 26th, 2022
Super League

The players to look out for and predictions for the season ahead as Saints and Catalans look set to lead the way again

Castleford Tigers

After nine seasons under the guidance of Daryl Powell, there is a new era at Castleford in 2022. The former Hull FC coach, Lee Radford, has taken the reins in West Yorkshire and that change has resulted in an overhaul of a Tigers squad that struggled last season. Among their new recruits are players such as Joe Westerman and George Lawler, both of whom will have England aspirations. They should help Castleford squeeze into the play-offs.

Coach Lee Radford Captain Paul McShane Key player Niall Evalds Last season 7th Prediction 6th

Catalans Dragons

Perpignan witnessed more rugby league history in 2021, as Catalans not only finished top in Super League for the first time but reached their maiden Grand Final. While they ultimately came up short against St Helens, the Dragons have strengthened once again in a bid to go a step further. The signing of State of Origin star Mitchell Pearce, on top of the immense squad already assembled in the south of France, could take Catalans into uncharted territory again.

Coach Steve McNamara Captain Benjamin Garcia Key player Mitchell Pearce Last season 1st and Grand Final runners-up Prediction 1st and Grand Final winners

Catalans Dragons were runners-up in the 2021 Grand Final and have the quality to be crowned champions in 2022. Photograph: Paul Currie/Shutterstock

Huddersfield Giants

Last year was always going to be a formative one for Huddersfield in Ian Watson’s first season in charge. A disappointing ninth-placed finish underlined that, but the Giants have gambled on a new half-back pairing of Théo Fages and Tui Lolohea to thrust them back up the table. Will Pryce, son of the former Great Britain half-back Leon, will be one of the competition’s standout talents too, but with so much quality above them, Huddersfield face a tough task to make the play-offs.

Coach Ian Watson Captain Michael Lawrence Key player Théo Fages Last season 9th Prediction 8th

Hull FC

It was a year of frustration for Hull FC in 2021. One of the competition’s biggest spenders failed to deliver on the field and Brett Hodgson faces a significant challenge to change that given the strength of the teams at the top. There have been some impressive signings including the former England scrum-half, Luke Gale, but a lack of depth in the pack could be the thing that prevents Hull from challenging again.

Coach Brett Hodgson Captain Luke Gale Key player Jake Connor Last season 8th Prediction 9th

Hull Kingston Rovers

The surprise package of Super League in 2021, Hull KR look in a strong position to push for the play-offs again this year. They have made one of the signings of the winter in convincing three-times Super League winner Lachlan Coote from St Helens, and their young squad will only be better for the experiences of last year. They are in a tussle with several other teams to make the top six, but history has shown they are entirely capable of doing so.

Coach Tony Smith Captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall Key player Lachlan Coote Last season 6th Prediction 7th

Leeds Rhinos

Last season injuries and suspensions forced Leeds into blooding a number of young players potentially before their time. But that should stand them in good stead, with the Rhinos looking to go one step further than last year’s exit in the play-off semi-finals. With a core of young, British talent and new half-backs in Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin, this could be an exciting year for Leeds.

Coach Richard Agar Captain Kruise Leeming Key player Richie Myler Last season 5th Prediction 3rd

The new Leeds recruits (from left to right): Aidan Sezer, James Bentley, Blake Austin and David Fusitu’a. Photograph: SWpix.com/Shutterstock

Salford Red Devils

Salford are one of a handful of clubs who look to be in the relegation battle at first glance but they, like some other teams, also have the potential to surprise. That illustrates the quality of the majority of the squads in Super League this year, but also the unpredictability surrounding the Red Devils given the fact they have a new coach, a new half-back pairing and some eye-catching signings.

Coach Paul Rowley Captain Elijah Taylor Key player Marc Sneyd Last season 11th Prediction 10th

St Helens

St Helens’ quest to become the first side in the modern era to win four consecutive Grand Finals is an intriguing one. For the first time in several years there has been major surgery on their strongest side, with mainstays such as Lachlan Coote, Théo Fages and James Bentley departing. The phenomenal Jack Welsby will replace Coote at full-back, and with St Helens’ business in the transfer market shrewd, there is little doubt they will challenge again.

Coach Kristian Woolf Captain James Roby Key player Jack Welsby Last season 2nd and Grand Final winners Prediction 2nd

Toulouse Olympique

Toulouse’s first off-season as a Super League club has been marred by frustration. They have lost key playmaker Johnathon Ford, and recruitment has not quite been as impressive as some expected. They will undoubtedly benefit from the fact that travel to France will be complicated in the early months of the season, and should pick up some wins. But an instant return to the Championship seems likely.

Coach Sylvain Houles Captain Tony Gigot Key player Tony Gigot Last season Promoted Prediction 12th

Toulouse Olympique celebrate victory in the Championship Grand Final against Featherstone Rovers in October 2021. Photograph: Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com/Shutterstock

Wakefield Trinity

While Wakefield have made some signings that have strengthened a squad that struggled throughout parts of 2021, this season looks like it will be another battle for Trinity. They finished last year with a flourish under interim coach Willie Poching, which convinced Wakefield to give him the reins full-time. But you would expect the West Yorkshire club to be fighting with Toulouse at the bottom.

Coach Willie Poching Captain Jacob Miller Key player Mason Lino Last season 10th Prediction 11th

Warrington Wolves

There is palpable excitement in the air at Warrington following the arrival of Daryl Powell from Castleford. The brand of rugby Powell likes his teams to play will undoubtedly refresh the Wolves, and make them one of the teams to track. A club with their quality and spending power undoubtedly have the potential to challenge for silverware, but they are in a cluster of teams who are just behind the standout pair of Catalans and St Helens.

Coach Daryl Powell Captain Jack Hughes Key player Gareth Widdop Last season 3rd Prediction 4th

Gareth Widdop’s form at half-back will be key to how Warrington progress this season. Photograph: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com/Shutterstock

Wigan Warriors

With a new coach, new signings and new feel to Wigan Warriors, there is a sense rugby league’s most famous club can press the reset button in 2022 after a disappointing few seasons. The new coach Matt Peet has promised Wigan will be attractive to watch with with playmakers Bevan French and Jai Field back fit. But the Warriors might have to be patient in terms of lifting a trophy as this young squad may not be ready just yet.

Coach Matt Peet Captain Thomas Leuluai Key player Bevan French Last season 4th Prediction 5th

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Wizadclick | WAC MAG 2022