With the 2020 Super League season fast approaching, it’s time to make seven fearless predictions ahead of the new campaign, predicting everything from the final table to the Man of Steel winner.
1. Mahe to become best signing
Super League has a host of new stars following a busy off-season from most of the 12 clubs in the competition with the likes of Gareth Widdop, James Maloney and Sonny Bill Williams all set to feature in 2020.
Whilst all three will undoubtedly have a big impact at their respective clubs, it’s Hull FC’s re-signing of Mahe Fonua from NRL side Wests Tigers that could prove to be the signing of the season.
The 27-year-old scored 31 tries in 58 matches during his first spell at the KCOM Stadium and his arrival should see the Airlie Birds return to the play-offs at the very least if not even greater success come the end of the campaign.
2. Maloney for Man of Steel
With so many star names in Super League this season, the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel award looks set to be hotly contested over the course of the season.
It’s difficult to look past new Catalans Dragons man James Maloney, who will hope to lead the French side to at least a top-five finish following his move from NRL side Penrith Panthers.
The New South Wales stand-off might be turning 34-years-old this season, but the two-time NRL Grand Final and two-time State of Origin winner should show everyone just how good he is in 2020 and show those back home in Australia what they’re missing.
3. Hull Kingston Rovers to be best improved
While any team will do well to match the improvement shown by Salford Red Devils last season, Ian Watson’s side showed that anything is possible in 2019.
With a new coach and several exciting additions to their squad, Hull KR look like a different side to the one that flirted with relegation last season.
Tony Smith is a Challenge Cup winning coach and has added former New Zealand winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall, former London Broncos star Jordan Abdull and exciting young talent Nick Rawsthorne to his squad amongst others.
An exciting season lies ahead for the KCOM Craven Park club.
4. Salford to slide?
Perhaps this is an easier call to make given their miraculous rise up the table in 2019, but Salford are likely to be the competition’s biggest sliders in 2020.
A wonderful campaign last term saw them claim a third-place finish in the league before being beaten in the Grand Final and have ultimately become a victim of their own success.
Losing Man of Steel Jackson Hastings and wing Jake Bibby to Wigan Warriors, as well as centre Josh Jones to Hull FC will make this season a much trickier campaign for Ian Watson’s men.
5. Saints to be dethroned
As we enter into a new decade of Super League will there be a changing of the guard? The competition was won by just three teams from 2010-2019 with Leeds Rhinos, St Helens and Wigan all claiming wins at Old Trafford.
However, with Castleford Tigers, Salford and Warrington Wolves coming ever so close to getting their name on the trophy in recent years, will 2020 finally be the season that Super League sees a new winner of the competition?
The Wolves in particular will be itching to make it ‘their year’ whilst Hull FC, finalists back in 2006, also look like they could be serious contenders this season.
6. Huddersfield for relegation
Predicting the entire Super League table without a try being scored is no easy feat, but there is method behind the madness.
St Helens will retain the League Leaders’ Shield under the guidance of new coach Kristian Woolf but Wigan’s strong recruitment and improved form under Adrian Lam sees them finish a close second, with Hull FC and Warrington keeping pace for most of the season.
Catalans round off the play-offs, with the French side seemingly recruiting strongly which means Daryl Powell’s Castleford will narrowly miss out on a top-five finish.
Tony Smith has reshaped Hull KR’s squad after a difficult campaign in 2019 and they may surprise people this term.
Leeds and Salford won’t be happy should they finish as low as eighth and ninth respectively, but still need another star signing each to force their way up the table.
Newly promoted Toronto Wolfpack will show glimpses of their quality, but even with superstar Sonny Bill Williams in their squad may lack the experience required to mount a push for the play-offs.
Which leaves Wakefield Trinity and Huddersfield Giants to battle it out for the bottom two spots and, with Trinity recruiting better than the Giants, that could spell relegation for Simon Woolford’s side.
1. St Helens
2. Wigan Warriors
3. Hull FC
4. Warrington Wolves
5. Catalans Dragons
6. Castleford Tigers
7. Hull KR
8. Leeds Rhinos
9. Salford Red Devils
10. Toronto Wolfpack
11. Wakefield Trinity
12. Huddersfield Giants
7. Play-offs to provide drama
This is where things get exciting! Warrington and Catalans meet in the Elimination Final and the Wolves should right the wrongs of last season and see off Steve McNamara’s side.
Wigan and Hull will then meet in the Qualifying Final and with Hull having an easier run of fixtures towards the end of the campaign, may use that momentum to oust the Warriors on their own turf.
Those results mean Wigan will host Warrington at the DW Stadium in the first semi-final and Adrian Lam’s side should be able to see off the Wolves to take them one game away from Old Trafford and extend the Wolves miserable record in the play-offs.
The second semi-final sees League Leaders’ Shield winners St Helens host Hull FC in what should be a dress rehearsal for the Grand Final. Home advantage will see Saints over the line and reach back-to-back Grand Final’s for the first time in nearly a decade.
Hull then play Wigan again, this time at the KCOM Stadium, in the Preliminary Final and will beat the Warriors once again to book a first Grand Final appearance since 2006.
Which leaves Saints and Hull to battle it out at Old Trafford, just as they did 14 years previously, only this time Hull will upset the odds and be crowned Super League champions for the first time.