The Super League is still in the early stages of the season, but some teams have started stronger than others. While there have also been surprises already with Leeds rooted to the bottom of the table.
Indeed it has been a tough couple of years for the Rhinos since winning the Grand Final at Old Trafford in 2017. Last season they finished ninth and only retained their Super League status by finishing second in the rugby league qualifiers. But, with the changing of the guard there comes fresh opportunities for teams, who are the best placed to win the whole thing this season?
The fiercest rivals of Leeds look to have put down a strong statement at the beginning of the 2019 campaign, as they are yet to lose a game. In fact, they have their first eight fixtures in the Super League. It has been a long five years since their last success and will be reluctant to get their hopes up just yet after being victorious in the hunt for the league leader shield last season.
After winning the shield they faced Warrington Wolves in the first round of the playoffs and were beaten, meaning their season form was all for nothing in the end. They have strengthened for the 2019 season, and have brought in Kevin Naiqama, Joseph Paulo, and Lachlan Coote.
Their effect has been immediate. Their finest moment of the season so far came against the luckless Leeds Rhinos; as they beat their bitter rivals 27-22.
Last season’s Grand Final runners up have been the most consistent challengers for the crown for many years now, but with the faltering Rhinos; it could be time for the Wolves to put down a marker of unprecedented dominance.
The Wolves are yet to win a Grand Final, and have been runners up on four occasions; most recently in 2018 when they lost to Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford in the final. Three of these second-placed finishes have come in the last six years. It could be time for the bridesmaid to become the bride.
The departure of head coach Tony Smith in 2017 after nine finals in nine years was thought to have a damaging effect, but the 2018 season showed that wasn’t the case. They have started the season strongly, and have only been beaten on one occasion; a narrow defeat at the hands of the Catalan Dragons. The Wolves are fancied by novibet.co.uk, as they currently sit as second favourites to win the Super League Grand Final.
Last season’s Grand Final winners have started the season slowly, having lost more games than they have won. But, their history in the competition means that they can’t be ruled out; after all, they did win the 2018 Grand Final after finishing second in the final standings. The Warriors have the ability to start a season slowly before building up momentum near the end of the season.
Following their defeat to Warrington, they won their next two efficiently against Salford Red Devils and Catalan. One reason that the Warriors has started slowly will be down to departures. Firstly head coach Shaun Wane departed for the Scotland rugby union job. Then they lost Sam Tomkins to Catalans, and Ryan Sutton and John Bateman to Canberra.
They have slowly pieced together some form, and therefore it wouldn’t be wise to bet against the Warriors winning their sixth Grand Final.