In a new series, we will aim to predict what will happen in each round of the Super League, between now and the end of the season.
The league will return after four months away, and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see what will happen.
Round One kicks off at Headingley Stadium on Friday.
St Helens vs. Salford Red Devils (6pm)- Two coaches in Kristian Woolf and Richard Marshall who know each other very well. Marshall was Woolf’s assistant at St Helens last year. Back-to-back champions St Helens will be keen to start the season well, as they look to win three in a row for the first time in their history. As for Salford, they will hope to finish higher, as a ninth place finish did not do them justice. They were deducted three wins for failing to meet the terms of a financial agreement.
I think it will be a close game, but an almost full-strength Saints side should have enough to beat Salford.
Prediction: Saints by 12.
Leigh Centurions vs. Wigan Warriors (8.15pm)- Leigh return to the Super League for the first time in four years, and they will face neighbours Wigan Warriors first up. Leigh will now doubt be full of energy, as they return to a stage they have craved to be on since their relegation in 2017. Unlike other sides, they have had two friendlies to get them back in the groove, after not playing for a year due to the cancellation of the Championship season. As for Wigan, they have had a bit of a disrupted pre-season, with Bevan French and Jackson Hastings returning late for pre-season, and new signing Jai Field has struggled with a back injury. They have a depleted back line, as well as those two, Dom Manfredi and Oliver Gildart are injured while Liam Marshall remains a long term absentee.
Despite it being a depleted Wigan, there is still a lot of quality in that side, and I expect them to come out on top here.
Prediction: Wigan by 10.
Wakefield Trinity vs. Leeds Rhinos (3pm)- Saturday’s action kicks off with Wakefield and Leeds going head to head. Wakefield will no doubt be looking to the future after a diffciult season in 2020 plagued by injury and COVID disruption. They have had a bit of a clearout of the squad, several players have dropped down to the Championship, with Tony Gigot returning to France. Mason Lino has come in, while Eddie Battye and Liam Kay have extended their stays. Challenge Cup winners Leeds have brought in former Saints halfback Kyle Eastmond, as well as King Vuniyawa and Zane Tetevano. By and large, Leeds’ squad has stayed pretty similar to how it was last season, apart from the departures of Ava Seumanufagai and Adam Cuthbertson. Dom Crosby and Stevie Ward also announced their retirements.
Leeds will be keen to kick on following their Challenge Cup success, and I believe the will start with a win.
Prediction: Leeds by 10.
Catalans Dragons vs. Hull KR (5.15pm)- Catalans will be hoping to build on last season, which saw them just 80 minutes away from a Grand Final place. However, they seem to have lost a key player in Israel Folau in the off-season. He has not returned to pre-season training, and Head Coach Steve McNamara has hinted he may not return. They have brought in Dean Whare to replace him. Meanwhile, a plethora of NRL talent has come in, in the form of Ryan Hall, Brad Takairangi, Korbin Sims and Albert Vete.
This one is hard to predict. Two completely different ways of playing, whilr Rovers play off the cuff and direct, Catalans play a much more patient and measured approach. I think Hull KR may just nick it.
Prediction: Hull KR by 4.
Hull FC vs. Huddersfield Giants (12.30pm)- A battle between two sides with new Head Coaches. Hull FC have appointed former Huddersfield and Warrington fullback Brett Hodgson while Huddersfield appointed Salford coach Ian Watson. Both will be keen to get off to the best start. Hull have brought in some good talent, including Josh Reynolds from Hodgson’s old club Wests Tigers, while Watson got some familar names to him in, as Josh Jones, Luke Yates and Olly Ashall-Bott as well as the likes of Ricky Leutele, James Cunningham and Joe Greenwood.
It will certainly be a tightly-contested affair, but one I think Hull will just shade.
Prediction: Hull by 4.
Castleford Tigers vs. Warrington Wolves (2.45pm)– Two sides in a similar boat, with Head Coaches Daryl Powell and Steve Price both confirming they would be departing their respective clubs. In that respect, both sets of players will be keen to send them off on the best possible note. Castleford have strengthened with the likes of Niall Evalds, and making Gareth O’Brien’s stay permanent will prove to be a shrewd move. Warrington meanwhile, have managed to pull off one of the most eye-catching signings in Greg Inglis. Although, he will not be fit for this one.
Both sides certainly have a lot of threat going forward, there will be plenty of points. It is a contest I see Warrington ultimately coming out on top.
Prediction: Warrington by 6.