Full-back: Josh Guzdek (Dewsbury Rams) – The former Hull Kingston Rovers junior has been one of the standout performers for the Rams over the past couple of seasons and he gained recgonition with a Championship Young Player of the Year nomination for 2016. Dewsbury coach Glenn Morrison will be hoping that Guzdek continues his steady progression into a quality number one.
Wing: Ethan Ryan (Bradford Bulls) – The Bulls academy product had a breakout season in 2016 with an impressive try-scoring record of 16 tries in 14 games and even though the club start on -12 points this year, the likes of Ryan will certainly help in their fight for survival. Undoubtedly bound for Super League in the future, Ryan will be wanting another great season at Odsal as he establishes himself as part of the furniture.
Centre: Kam Pearce-Paul (London Broncos) – The youngster made a name for himself after helping London to victory against Salford Red Devils in the Qualifiers last year. What made Pearce-Paul’s performance all the more impressive was the fact he showed up so well on debut for the capital club. Coach Andrew Henderson handed the rising star a new contract soon after but he will have to work hard to break into the first team once again, especially as he will be competing against Adrian Purtell, Ben Hellewell and Michael Channing.
Centre: Kieran Gill (Oldham) – Gill helped the Roughyeds secure their Championship status in the latter stages of the 2016 season after arriving on loan from Castleford Tigers. Coach Scott Naylor has done well to get Gill back on a season long loan deal and the youngster will certainly be better off after another year in the second tier.
Wing: James Duckworth (Featherstone Rovers) – The ex-Hunslet man has been handed the number two shirt by Featherstone coach Jon Sharp but there’s some good competition in the squad with Luke Briscoe, Scott Turner and Kyran Johnson all vying for a spot in the team. Duckworth scored three tries in nine games for Featherstone last year and he will be wanting to gain more game time in 2017 and put his name forward for a spot in the first team squad on a weekly basis.
Stand-off: Etienne Ferret (Toulouse Olympique) – Part of the academy setup at the French club. Ferret will have to work hard to earn a place in the first team considering Johnathon Ford and Stanislas Robin have been named as numbers six and seven by coach Sylvain Houles. Just like his two fellow half-backs, Ferret has a nice turn of pace and a running game which could easily hurt defences so Houles’ team selection will be one to keep an eye out for. Maybe the stand-off will be used as an impact substitute?
Scrum-half: Danny Yates (Rochdale Hornets) – Yates scored 12 tries in 27 games during Rochdale’s promotion season last year and now he has a new half-back partner in Lewis Palfrey. The way Palfrey and Yates link up will be vital to Rochdale’s survival bid. Yates comes into the Championship after winning the League 1 Young Player of the Year award for 2016. Will he have the same impact in the second tier?
Prop: Jack Teanby (Dewsbury Rams) – A perfect example of why reserves rugby needs to be implemented at every club if financially viable. Teanby impressed for Dewsbury’s second string who won the Reserves Championship in 2015 and coach Glenn Morrison gave the youngster a chance in the first team and he hasn’t looked back since. Another big season expected from the front-rower and I’m sure he won’t disappoint.
Hooker: Matty Fozard (Sheffield Eagles) – The former St Helens dummy-half was a big hit in his first season at the Eagles and he will be wanting to push on and impress further in 2017. In what was a disappointing season for Sheffield, Fozard was one of the shining lights and if he can put in similar performances then other clubs may sniff around for his services.
Prop: Elliot Morris (Halifax) – Another former reserve player who has made it into his club’s first team squad. Morris will be aiming to challenge the likes of Mitch Cahalane and Adam Tangata this season as he tries to make a name for himself. Halifax coach Richard Marshall, who used to work with youngsters in the Warrington Wolves setup, has a tendency to give inexperienced players a chance and this should come as good news to Morris and others in the Halifax team.
Second-row: Oliver Davies (Swinton Lions) – Davies joined Swinton in the off-season from St Helens and the second-rower will be hoping for a good debut season. Learning his craft from the likes of Matt Sarsfield and Connor Dwyer, Davies is in good company at Heywood Road and it’ll be interesting to see how the youngster performs in a very competitive league.
Second-row: James Harrison (Batley Bulldogs) – Harrison has shown signs of promise when he has played in the first team for Batley. The forward had a loan spell with League 1 club Oxford in the past while also chipping in with good performances for the Bulldogs when called upon. Former Batley coach John Kear gave Harrison his first proper chance and he certainly impressed. A breakout season shouldn’t be too far away.
Loose forward: Jordan Abdull (Hull Kingston Rovers) – Although Abdull may play most of his rugby for the Robins at stand-off, he also has the ability to cover at loose forward. Signed on loan from neighbours Hull FC, Abdull has been tipped to shine in the Championship this season and after loan spells at Doncaster and Featherstone he knows all about the leagues below the top tier.