Super League XXVII – Season Outright Tips and Betting Preview

2021 was meant to be a huge year of Rugby League but after the World Cup was put back another year it is 2022 which will have that honour. With that tournament now scheduled for the end of this year we have a slightly earlier start to another Super League season, with the campaign getting underway on Thursday night.

St Helens landed a hat trick of titles when they came out victorious at Old Trafford last season and they will be looking to continue their dominance of the domestic game but there is a feeling a teams could give them more to think about this year.

Recent Winners

2021 – St Helens

2020 – St Helens

2019 – St Helens

2018 – Wigan Warriors

2017 – Leeds Rhinos

2016 – Wigan Warriors

2015 – Leeds Rhinos

2014 – St Helens

2013 – Wigan Warriors

2012 – Leeds Rhinos

The Format

We are back to a normal 27 round season this year, one of which comes at the Magic Weekend, after the pandemic shortened the season last term. 12 teams are in the competition with a couple of key rules changes once again notably that scrums are back for the first time since the pandemic came along. The other change is for the ball steal rule to be reverted back to the one on one tackle only which was in place before Covid came along.

The playoff format remains the same as last season with six teams progressing to the postseason. Third hosts sixth and fourth host fifth in straight knockout in the first week of the play-offs with the winners progressing to the semi-finals to travel to one of the top two. The leaders play the lowest remaining side. The two semi-final winners meet in the Grand Final at Old Trafford on September 24. The team that finishes bottom of the table will be relegated to the Championship.

The Favourites

St Helens begin the season as 9/4 shots to win the title for a fourth year in a row. Winning this title three years in a row had only been done once before but no team has ever won the Super League competition for four seasons consecutively so the Red Vee are searching for history this term. There has been a bit of a turnover of players at St Helens with the likes of Lachlan Coote and Kevin Maiqama moving on but they have signed well by bringing Konrad Hurrell, Joey Lussick and Will Hopoate in among others. Saints still look very strong. They are the team to beat if they maintain the standards from the last couple of seasons.

Warrington Wolves continue to flatter to deceive but you get the feeling they are going to be big challengers with Daryl Powell taking over the coaching reins. He will play a brand of rugby which should suit the star squad he has at his disposal. He was always going to see natural improvement with George Williams around for the whole season but the additions of Peter Mata’utia and Oliver Holmes bring genuine Super League quality to the party to go alongside the likes of Gareth Widdop and Ben Currie among others. If Powell can get the Wolves performing to the standards they have in their squad anything less than a Grand Final appearance would have to be considered a failure. They rate solid second favourites at 9/2.

Catalans Dragons are 6/1 third favourites to go one better than last season and win the Grand Final this term. One doubt people have over the Dragons is whether they will be as strong without James Maloney but Mitchell Pearce is a more than acceptable replacement. Catalans could have one advantage in that teams travelling to their home ground will be unable to use unvaccinated players, at least in the early part of the season, and if the likes of Arthur Mourgue shows the improvement many expect then the Dragons should be there or thereabouts once again. Don’t sleep on them although it might be worth waiting until after the opening game to get on them as they face St Helens.

The Wigan Warriors had a bit of a season to forget last term and will begin this campaign as 13/2 shots to get the job done. Shaun Wane has come back as a kind of Director of Rugby which should help them build on a disappointing season and if they can have better luck with injuries then that will help but there is no Jackson Hastings this season and you wonder if the same will he or won’t he stay sagas around Bevan French will come back again. Oliver Gildart is another loss but Kaide Ellis and Cade Cust look good additions but Wigan definitely have a bit to find if they are going to be challengers this term.

Contenders

The Leeds Rhinos have undergone something of a huge change to their squad and are 8/1 to regain the title which they seemed to own a decade or so ago. You can’t win Super League without a decent half-back pairing and there won’t be many in the league better than Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin when they are both around. Leeds have also caught the eye with signing of David Fusitu’a, who caught the eye in the last World Cup in particular. Leeds had plenty of injury and Covid problems last season but still made the playoffs. With a better run with injuries they should be in and around the top four this term.

Hull FC are 22/1 to finally win a Grand Final with the sponsors Betfred but I wonder if this will be a year of transition for the Black and Whites. They missed out on the playoffs last season when they were ravaged by injuries and while Luke Gale is a decent addition to their ranks, losing Marc Sneyd isn’t going to help them while Mahe Fonua and Bureta Faraimo were key contributors to the success they had in recent years. Darnell McIntosh has arrived from Huddersfield to plug the gap on the wing but Hull might need a lot to go their way to be competitive this season.

Castleford Tigers are also 22/1 to win the Super League crown. They enter a new era with Daryl Powell now coaching Warrington Wolves. Lee Radford is a former player so he will know all about the Tigers mentality but he never really did a huge amount when he had a decent squad at Hull FC so he has a bit to prove. The Tigers have brought in some experienced Super League talent but there is no getting away from the fact they have lost a lot of experience from last season, not least captain Michael Shenton who has now retired. This looks a year of transition for the Tigers.

A lot of people expected Huddersfield Giants to go well under 2020 losing Grand Final coach Ian Watson but that never materialised, although in the press day leading up to this season he seemed to suggest an internal problem which needed sorting and without putting it in the public domain, given the huge turnover of players in Huddersfield you sense Watson wasn’t happy with his squad. You must have a good half-back pair in this competition and in Theo Fages and Tui Lolohea the Giants have that, while the additions of Chris Hill, Danny Levi and Innes Senior all catch the eye. Don’t be surprised if Huddersfield do in 2022 what they were expected to in 2021.


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Outsiders

Hull KR were 80 minutes from Old Trafford last season but were no match for the Catalans Dragons in the semi-final but Tony Smith is a shrewd operator who tends to improve sides year on year so the 35/1 on the red side of Hull going deep this season certainly shouldn’t be ruled out. You sensed this was always going to be a year of improvement for the Robins once Lachlan Coote announced he was joining the side. He brings a huge presence at full-back to this side and his place kicking could be the difference between winning and losing matches. Hull KR are full of match-winners and if Coote improves them defensively they could go very close.

The other four sides are all expected to struggle this season. Wakefield Trinity certainly improved once Willie Poching took over as coach and they will be hoping that improvement can continue to allow them to better their 80/1 odds for the title. That is going to be beyond them but the likes of Tom Lineham, Lee Gaskell and Liam Hood over a few exits in the squad. I still think that Trinity are more likely to be in the bottom four than anywhere near the top six.

Salford Red Devils flattered to deceive under Richard Marshall last season and that has led to Paul Rowley taking on the reins. The Red Devils have added some good ball players to their ranks but they needed to having lost their half-backs from last season. They have pepped up the pack as well but even their coach admitted that they are a work in progress after all that has gone in. I doubt fans would want to hear that just a second season after reaching a Grand Final but it suggests that quotes of 100/1 are realistic and not worth chancing even with the kicking game of Marc Sneyd in their ranks.

Toulouse Olympique are the new boys in the competition but you only have to look to the struggles of the Leigh Centurions last season to see how tough it is to stay up in the first year after promotion. Leigh didn’t win promotion with performance though so they were always going to be up against it so Toulouse do at least have that positive on them. Their squad looks weak though so they will be relying on the spirit that got them to this level keeping them at it. Staying up would be a great achievement and must be their primary aim.

Outright Betting

St Helens are clearly the team to beat this season but I don’t really want my money tied up for seven months on a 9/4 shot. If they do win the title they will have to beat someone in the final so I’ll play a couple at big prices in the hope that they outrun their odds. Huddersfield Giants will come to the party under Ian Watson and I think they should be in shape to do that this season. He has a good half-back pairing in Theo Fages and Tui Lolohea and the youngsters that Watson blooded will know what it is all about now, especially Will Pryce who is being spoken of in huge terms. Chris Hill knows how to raise and set the standards so this should be a much better season for the Giants. At 22/1 I’ll pay to see how much better.

I also expect some improvement from Hull KR this season and if we get that then you would have to say they are Grand Final contenders when you consider they were only 80 minutes from Old Trafford last season. They went to the Catalans Dragons ravaged by injury and players playing not fully fit so if they can manage their fitness a little better this season then this exciting Hull KR side can be in the mix again. The signing of Lachlan Coote helps them out both defensively and with another place kicker to their ranks. I think Hull KR can go from surprise packages to challenging for full honours this term.

Top Tryscorer

David Fusitu’a caught the eye for Tonga at the last World Cup and he could be ready to breakout in his first season for the Leeds Rhinos. The former New Zealand Warrior is likely to feast on kicks from Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin this season and assuming he plays the right wing he will have one of the best centres in the competition on his inside in Harry Newman. This is a Leeds side who will be expected to flourish in the offensive areas this season and if that is the case then you would have to think their new signing will go over for plenty of tries. At 14/1 I’ll pay to see how many times he crosses the try line.

Man of Steel

With St Helens expected to win the title once again I’ll take a couple of men from them for the Man of Steel title with the first of those being their 2020 hero Jack Welsby. He has been in and out of the side in all sorts of different positions in his time in the side so far but he is firmly going to be the established full-back this season and I think that is a position which will allow him to flourish in a similar way to how Jake Connor has done in the same role for Hull FC. Welsby is going to be a star and if he fills the void left by Coote like people expect him to he’ll be a Man of Steel contender.

Morgan Knowles is the relentless, never off the field forward that often catches the eye for St Helens and with the World Cup at the end of the year he’ll be keen to impress going into that tournament. Often forwards who put in good shifts get decent recognition throughout the season, especially in the big matches and while Alex Walmsley tends to get the plaudits, he is often injured and plays in bursts in the match. When fit Knowles will be on the field throughout the campaign and in a condensed season that stamina and relentlessness could see him land the coveted individual title.

Tips

Back Huddersfield Giants to win Super League XXVII (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 23.00 with Betfred (1/3 1-2)

Back Hull KR to win Super League XXVII (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 36.00 with Betfred (1/3 1-2)

Back D.Fustiu’a Top Tryscorer (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 with Bet365 (1/4 1-4)

Back J.Welsby Man of Steel for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 with BetVictor

Back him here:

Back M.Knowles Man of Steel for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with William Hill

Back him here:

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Author: Martha Chavez