Betfred Championship club-by-club guide: How is your side predicted to perform in 2022?

Arguably the most exciting division of rugby league, the Betfred Championship is gearing up for a return.

Perhaps a historic season is waiting for us too as the league returns to live television thanks to the deal with Premier Sports. But who will impress the most in 2022 and who will secure promotion to Super League?

Barrow Raiders

Returning for another shot in the Championship are Cumbrian side Barrow Raiders. Barrow have some experience in their squad, most notably Jarrod Sammut, Hakim Miloudi and Luke Cresswell. Not to mention they have proved to be difficult to topple up North but being newly promoted could take a toll on them as they look set to battle it out in a relegation dog fight.

Prediction: 12th

Batley Bulldogs

The Bulldogs enjoyed a terrific season under Coach of the Year Craig Lingard but it could be considered a risk relying on a highly similar squad for 2022. The likes of Alistair Leak, Ben White, Ben Kaye and Tom Gilmore will lead by example plus James Meadows and Perry Whiteley are options on the outside. But with other clubs around them advancing, they could very well be put at a disadvantage in what might be a much tougher season for the Bulldogs.

Prediction: 9th

Bradford Bulls

Can they become “famous” again? Bradford Bulls will hope to go one better after a disappointing end to 2021. They have some exciting new personnel in their squad for 2022, with Declan Patton set to partner Jordan Lilley at half-back. Additional experience comes in the shape of Elliot Kear and Sam Scott. With a comfortable pre-season win over a youthful Hull FC side already bagged, it may just be the start of something special for the former Super League champions.

Prediction: 4th

Dewsbury Rams

Low on numbers, and perhaps experience, Dewsbury Rams look set for a year at the bottom, where their ‘luck’ could finally run out. Paul Sykes has undertaken a player-coach role so his input will be valuable but new half-backs are always a risk but Ale Smith and Matty Beharrell may now possess incentive to prove any critics wrong. It will remain difficult for them as their continuous years in the second division could finally come to an end.

Prediction: 13th

Featherstone Rovers

So close, yet so far once again, Featherstone Rovers may have finished as runners-up in the Million Pound Game but will surely return as one of the firm favourites for a bid for the Super League that has cruelly eluded them for over a decade now. They have recruited heavily, having added Samoan internationals Jesse Sene-Lefao and Joey Leilua to their ranks. Not to mention they possess exciting half-backs in Dane Chisholm and Tom Holmes as well new arrival Ryley Jacks plus points machine Craig Hall. The “flat cappers” will be considerably hot to handle throughout 2022 and could well make their long-awaited dream a reality especially with two-time Super League Champion Adam Cuthbertson and Ben Mathiou added to their squad this week alongside the aforementioned Jacks.

Prediction: 2nd

Halifax Panthers

Roaring their way back will be the Halifax Panthers, who look set for another season at the top. Adding Joe Keyes at half-back was a smart move, having shown promise during his Super League stint at Hull KR. More notable additions include London duo Cory Aston and Titus Gwaze plus Joe Arundel with all his experience from Wakefield will provide the Panthers with plenty of attacking options that could well make them a surprise package for promotion.

Prediction: 3rd

Leigh Centurions

Easy come, easy go, was the story of yet another brief spell in the top flight for the Leigh Centurions. However, Leigh have pulled off some major signings in their bid for a return, most notably Caleb Aekins from the Canberra Raiders. The star signing is sure to add extra dimensions of attacking ‘footy’ at the club white the additions of Nene McDonald, Tom Amone and Edwin Ipape from down under provides them with further options.

Prediction: 1st

London Broncos

The pandemic hit the Londoners hard, forcing them back to part-time status. They have a new home to look forward to plus new players in Jude Ferreira and both Will Ramsy and Ronny Palumbo. But the Broncos fell out of the play-offs last year and are still in a heavy period of transition which could well see them endure a season of struggle.

Prediction: 10th

Newcastle Thunder

Blasting their way back in 2022 are the Newcastle Thunder and going by their decision to become a full-time club this season, it could easily pay off. Their most notable signings are former Super League foursome Mitch Clark, Alex Foster, Craig Mullen and Josh Eaves. Furthermore, Australian centre Jesse Dee arrives from down under and Ireland international Pat Moran has made the move to Newcastle. Exciting signings all around then, it could be a big season for the club.

Prediction: 6th

Sheffield Eagles

New beginnings for the Sheffield Eagles? Olympic Legacy Park is undergoing some radical development plus plenty of new faces are at the club for 2022. Ben Jones-Bishop and Jason Bass arrive from York plus Ross Oakes and Kris Welham have also joined the one time Challenge Cup winners. All bring plenty of experience especially Bishop who is a two-time Super League Champion after all. However, it remains a transitional period for the Eagles that could see them endure another long, hard season.

Prediction: 11th

Whitehaven

They surprised all last year with their play-off surge and Whitehaven will return to prove it was not a fluke. ‘Haven have made considerable changes to their side, with a new coach in Jonty Gorley plus new players in Geronimo Doyle, Dave Eccleston, Will Evans and Liam McAvoy. A shake up at the club could see the transitional period hinder them slightly but they clearly demonstrated that they should not be underestimated and should be genuine play-off contenders once more.

Prediction: 7th

Widnes Vikings

Will they ever return to Super League? Widnes will want to shrug off a disappointing 2021 but this year could well be a similar story. They have added the likes of Liam Bent and Tyler Dupree from Oldham and have retained experienced players in Steve Tyrer, Shane Grady and Adam Lawton plus half-backs Matty Smith and Danny Craven. But still arguably in a transitional period on and off the field with what could be considered to an ageing team, they should produce some exciting rugby league but the play-offs may be a bridge too far.

Prediction: 8th

Workington Town

Completing the trio of Cumbrian Championship clubs newly promoted Workington Town will be hoping to steer clear of relegation. But being newly promoted often comes with the tag of relegation favourites so Workington could endure a hard season. Though they possess the likes of Joe Brown, Carl Forber, Jamie Doran and Conor Fitzsimmons, Town will struggle to get going and unless something special occurs, a return to League 1 looks likely.

Prediction: 14th

York City Knights

They attempted it the “easy way” through the creative concept “Heartland Expansion” but can York attain promotion to Super League the “hard way”? The Knights have always been in and around the play-offs since their promotion to the Championship and 2022 should be a similar story going by their squad. Pauli Pauli was a surprise yet emphatic signing. With Pauli at the club alongside former Hull duo Jack Logan and Masi Matongo plus Jamie Ellis at half-back, the Knights could well prove to be fearsome foes to battle against this season.

Prediction: 5th

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