The Super League season is nearly upon us with rumours and predictions whirling around as is usual for this stage of the year.
But, with clubs rebuilding for a shot at silverware and relegation once more in the pipeline, it will be interesting to see how it all pans out come the end of the season.
Here we make five bold predictions for Super League in 2021.
Hull FC will win a trophy
Under Brett Hodgson, Hull have rebuilt tremendously and appear raring to go in the upcoming campaign. With the capture of Josh Reynolds, Hodgson has solved the loss of Albert Kelly and the Australian has also identified Jake Connor as his number one in the absence of Jamie Shaul. An incredibly skilful spine and backline and formidable pack are likely to send the Airlie Birds to the play-offs quite easily, whilst Hull’s affinity with the Challenge Cup could come back into play.
Huddersfield will reach the play-offs
New Huddersfield boss Ian Watson guided Salford to a Grand Final in 2019 and Challenge Cup Final in 2020 and with an extended wallet from Giants owner Ken Davy, has built a stellar squad ahead of the new season. The likes of Luke Yates, Ricky Leutele and Josh Jones have joined the club with Watson putting his own stamp on the West Yorkshire side. Man of Steel nominee Aidan Sezer is still at the John Smith’s Stadium which will certainly help the Giants’ chances of making the play-offs.
Leigh will stay up
They have been condemned by all and sundry to face the drop in 2021, but Leigh are ready to shock the rest of Super League. With John Duffy at the helm, the Centurions have a coach that bleeds both the sport and the club, and, signings such as established top-flight stars Joe Mellor and Ben Flower will give Leigh some stability around the field. Of course, it’s going to be difficult, but Hull KR won just three games last season and Wakefield five. When Leigh were relegated back in 2017, they won six games – albeit from more fixtures – so it’s definitely not out of their reach by any sense.
Largest crowds ever at the Challenge Cup Final, Magic Weekend and Grand Final
If maximum capacity crowds are allowed by July – the date of the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley – and then in October and September for the Magic Weekend and Grand Final respectively, then get ready for bumper numbers. Fans will no longer want to miss out on the opportunity to attend the big fixtures – particularly if their own side gets there – following the dismal year that has just gone. In fact, it’s even bold to assume that records will be broken.
There will be more rule changes
Last season we saw the introduction of the six again as well as the removal of scrums, but the RFL has gone further for 2021, including 20/40 kicks and a handover of possession for an incorrect play-the-ball. This constant tinkering is likely to continue into the new season as referees get up to speed and the governing bodies evaluate certain regulations. So, don’t be surprised to see more rule changes.