Friday, 6 February 2009

Super League XIV

Well after the shortest Pre Season ever, which still felt like an eternity to fans, Super League returns to our Screens tonight in the form of Leeds Rhinos, the Pre Season Favourites, against Celtic Crusaders, the Pre Season Favourites to finish bottom.

Maybe not the best match to open up the season, but after a few months of inactivity, any game will seem a classic. As for the result, with Leeds missing Brent Webb, Rob Burrow, Danny Buderus and Greg Eastwood, is there any chance of an update against the new boys?

Sadly, you wouldn’t think so, given that eight of Celtic’s squad only arrived in the country last week, but you never know! Especially with the weather conditions being the way they are, and the unpredictability of Super League. That said, I would expect Leeds to win comfortably, but if Celtic could put in a good first half that would be appreciated, as Leeds’ pre match price of 1.06 simply has to be laid.

As for the season, it is always difficult to predict before a ball is kicked in anger, but here is where I might expect the teams to line up come the end of the year.

1. Leeds Rhinos. Good coaches prosper in their Second year, and the Rhinos certainly have a good one.
2. St Helens. Might take some time for the Saints to gel, and our squad doesn’t look as strong as recent seasons.
3. Bradford Bulls. Possibly the best forward pack in the league and an extremely under-rated coach.
4. Wigan Warriors. A return to the days of the Big 4? The Pie Eaters have made some impressive signings. Much depends on Tim Smith, however.
5. Warrington Wolves. I have backed Warrington in previous seasons, but I think they could struggle this year. Watch them shine!
6. Hull KR. They won’t win the Super League, but they are a very impressively set-up outfit.
7. Hull FC. Too good to struggle again.
8. Harlequins. Impressive youngsters will develop further and a very well coached side.
9. Catalans Dragons. Not so much them going backwards as maybe not keeping up.
10. Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. I wanted to place them higher, but there is too much quality ahead of them.
11. Huddersfield Giants. 5 – 11 really are interchangeable. I think the Giants’ squad is extremely capable of doing very well this season.
12. Salford City Reds. Will impress on their return, but ultimately don’t possess the individual brilliance of the above teams.
13. Castleford Tigers. Capable of beating anyone on their day, but like Salford, I don’t see the individual brilliance.
14. Celtic Crusaders. Sadly, I think they may struggle in their first season in Super League, although they should be able to lay succesful foundations for the future.

Looking at the league, I agree with people who are saying this will be the most even competition ever. Anyone can beat anyone and that is only good for the game. Teams ranked 5 to 11 above could easily be interchanged. However, I do almost see three mini leagues – The Top 4, 5 to 11 and 12 to 14 although I expect one of 5 to 11 to make the Top 4, and one of them to make the Bottom 3, but I don’t know who, and I don’t think anyone will until the season begins.

Which it will, in 2 hours.

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