We’re seven rounds into the Super League season, most teams have only played six games due to the weather but here’s what I have thought of the season so far.
1st – St Helens
It’s great to see the Saints returning to their best with Ben Barba running the show for them at the back. If he carries on ruining defences like he has been then he has to be a contender for the Man Of Steel award. The Merseyside outfit have suffered in recent years but it finally seems like the good times will be coming back as long as no disasters happen.
2nd – Wigan Warriors
Many people thought Wigan would struggle this season due to the loss of Micky McIlorum and having to rely on a relatively young side but they’ve looked strong in every game they’ve played, even the 16-10 loss at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. The only reason I worry about Wigan is that I think the Australia trip could come back to haunt them in the long run when fatigue starts to kick in. Whilst the trip was successful, I think it could bite them.
3rd – Wakefield Wildcats
Wakefield have proved the doubters wrong once again with scintillating attacking rugby. Tom Johnstone earned himself a call up to the England squad with some fantastic finishes this season. If the Wildcats can hold off any offers for the youngster they really have a star of the future on their hands.
4th – Leeds Rhinos
Brian McDermott’s team have looked very impressive this season with just one loss to Widnes. They have class all over the park and their youngsters are really starting to blossom. I believe we could be seeing the start of a new era at Leeds, the two new stands and multiple future stars really make for exciting times at Headingley.
5th – Warrington Wolves
Warrington are the only team to have played all seven games and they’ve had some mixed results. Their opening fixture against Leeds showed much promise and the signing of Bryson Goodwin could be the difference for success if he stays injury free. The acquisition of Josh Charley should leave the Primrose and Blue fans watering at the mouth to see him in action. It shouldn’t take him too long to adapt back to Rugby League.
6th – Castleford Tigers
The Tigers have been hit hard with cancelled games this season and have only taken to the field four times. They seem to have got their heads together after a disastrous opening night against St Helens and have beaten Widnes, Hull FC and Salford. Daryl Powell leaving the England set up can only mean good things for the club and it shows he has confidence that he can get another chance at the national team job through success at Wheldon Road. The backlog of fixtures could hurt them towards the end of the regular season as they will have to squeeze in two games against Wigan and Hull KR so a cup run may be off the cards if they’re to aim for Old Trafford.
7th – Widnes Vikings
Widnes have shown glimpses of the talent in the team in their wins against Catalans and Leeds, in fact even in defeat at Castleford they looked strong. Their loss to Wigan was a big psychological blow as they should’ve held onto the lead and their recent loss to Huddersfield wasn’t very impressive at all. Considering the teams budget, they’re doing ok but I can’t see them escaping the middle 8s come July.
8th – Hull KR
The newly promoted Robins were most people’s pre season favourites to finish bottom due to many people feeling they lack the ability within the squad to compete week in, week out. So far they’ve performed well in four out of the six games they’ve played, they’ve beaten the Catalan Dragons and Huddersfield Giants comfortably, scared the Rhinos at Headingley and controversially lost to the Dragons away from home. The other two performances were below par and I’m sure Tim Sheens will use the space on the salary cap to make sure those results are few and far between.
9th – Hull FC
We cross the river to West Hull to look at the Black and Whites, the Challenge Cup holders lost Mahe Fonua and Gareth Ellis in the off season which are big blows. They’ve suffered injuries to Houghton, Kelly and their new signings Paea and Faraimo which haven’t helped. Many weren’t surprised to see Liam Watts be allowed to leave the club to join Castleford Tigers due to disciplinary issues. Despite only winning twice, the Airlie Birds will come good once their star players are back and they should be pushing for the top four if they don’t leave it too late.
10th – Salford Red Devils
Many people anticipated Salford would struggle after the money tap was halted with Marwan Koukash’s departure. The only success the Red Devil’s have had this season has come against the two Hull teams with convincing victories against both. The fact that the Gareth O’Brien was allowed to leave to join Toronto Wolfpack is worrying for the fans as Ian Watson stated that they wouldn’t be bullied into selling players. The middle 8’s beckons for the club unfortunately.
11th – Huddersfield Giants
After Jermaine McGillvary turned heads at the World Cup, many people expected him to light up the league with Huddersfield this season if he found that form. Neither the player or the club has found a spark this year and their recent loss to Hull KR at home made a lot of people question what is going on behind the scenes. The team is full of international standard played but they don’t seem to have clicked this year.
12th – Catalan Dragons
After they escaped relegation in the Million Pound Game, many thought it would be a wake up call for the French outfit. But how wrong could they be. The Dragons have only won once this season, in a match many people thought they shouldn’t have won due to McIlorum deliberately throwing the ball at a player to earn a penalty to win. Steve McNamara must be playing with borrowed time and if things don’t change soon, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him be the first to get the sack.