5. Salford Red Devils
Salford are an unknown entity heading into the 2021 season with Richard Marshall replacing Ian Watson in the AJ Bell Stadium hot seat. While many think the Red Devils overachieved under former coach Watson, on paper, I think their squad is more than strong enough to challenge for the play-offs.
I’ve been impressed by the club’s recruitment drive with Morgan Escare, Joe Burgess and Elijah Taylor all exciting additions to a squad that has come close to winning silverware in each of the last two seasons.
That said, the likes of Niall Evalds, Joey Lussick and Gil Dudson will be difficult players to replace, having been so impressive in recent reasons, but there is a foundation for the club to build on this year as they look to defy the odds once again.
Krisnan Inu. Samoan international Inu is a hugely influential figure at the AJ Bell Stadium and is one of the league’s best goal-kickers registering over 100 points in the competition last season.
6. Huddersfield Giants
Huddersfield struggled for form when the Super League restarted again last season. Having looked like play-off contenders in the early weeks of the campaign, the Giants are more than capable of achieving a top-six finish under new coach Ian Watson.
The additions of Joe Greenwood, Josh Jones, Ricky Leutele and Luke Yates should improve an already talented squad. Watson will be keen to get more tries out of wing Jermaine McGillvary who continues to be linked with a move to the NRL.
It will be a season of transition at the John Smith’s Stadium and given time, Watson should be able to turn the Giants back into play-off contenders.
Aidan Sezer. Unsurprisingly, the Giants key man will be Sezer who provided 18 try assists in Super League last season. The former Canberra man should improve this year under the management of Watson and, with some help from those around him, push the Giants further up the table.
7. Hull FC
Hull FC fans won’t like this but I have the Airlie Birds missing out on the play-offs under fledgling coach Brett Hodgson as they look for a fresh approach in 2021.
Signing Josh Reynolds is a major coup, and I expect him to be one of the league’s standout performers this term. It’s likely to take a season for the club to alter their style of play as Hodgson looks set to bring some entertainment back to the KCOM Stadium.
They somehow reached the semi-finals last season which looked unthinkable after their poor early season form and might need to manage their expectations this campaign having also lost Ratu Naulago and Albert Kelly.
Marc Sneyd. The Black and Whites can always rely on Sneyd when they really need him, amassing 123 points in last year’s competition. His game management continues to improve and his knack for scoring a drop goal could prove vital at the end of the season.
8. Catalans Dragons
Catalans Dragons have an experienced coach in Steve McNamara and a talented playing squad, but tend to lack the consistency required to mount a serious challenge for the Super League title.
On paper, their signings look good with Gil Dudson, Mike McMeeken and Dean Whare all arriving – the latter being a particularly intriguing addition from NRL minor premiers Penrith Panthers.
It remains to be seen whether Israel Folau will return to the club, but as mentioned above their season will hinge on how consistent the Dragons are this term in what should be a much more routine campaign for the French side after Covid-19 had a huge impact on their matches last term.
James Maloney. A born winner, Maloney is as tough and experienced as they come and has all the leadership qualities a team could want in a player. An extremely reliable goal-kicker, the 34-year-old will want to show he’s still capable of playing at the top level in 2021.