Squads are being finalised, numbers handed out and in some cases leadership groups are changing as we build up to the 2023 Super League season and that’s been the case at numerous clubs in the division this year.
Some teams will have completely new captains after a their 2022 skipper has left or retired but others could be changing the leadership group so here’s a list of each teams’ 2023 captains.
No change at Cas as Paul McShane will lead them again as he has did last season, having replaced the retired Michael Shenton. The 2020 Man of Steel will head into his second season leading the Tigers after what was a disappointing season for him in 2022 and resulted in his omission from the England World Cup squad. With signings such as Gareth Widdop and former Wakefield trinity captain Jacob Miller, McShane will have plenty of experience around him as Tigers look to return to the playoffs.
We lost a French side to relegation in the 2022 season but for Catalans it was business as normal, making the playoffs for the third consecutive year, and heading into his third year as captain will be Benjamin Garcia. Catalans have lost plenty in this transfer window with three big losses to Warrington Wolves including Josh Drinkwater, Sam Kasiano and Gil Dudson but Garcia has captained the Perpignan team to a first and fourth placed finish, and will have England captain Sam Tomkins at his disposal for support as well.
The first side on this list to have made a change although it’s not to their on field captain as Luke Yates retains that job, it’s actually their club captain with stalwart Michael Lawrence heading to Bradford Bulls meaning the position was vacant. With 285 Super League appearances for the Giants there isn’t many who could adequatley fill the Jamaican international’s shoes but Leroy Cudjoe could, and has done so. Named club captain for 2023, Cudjoe is heading into his 15th season for Huddersfield and will surpass the 300 Super League appearances mark with just seven more games. Following their best season in over a decade including a Challenge Cup Final appearance and third place in the table there’s plenty to be optimistic about at the John Smiths stadium.
The first side on the list where the role is genuinely up in the air as FC no longer have the skipper from the start of their 2022 campaign and they also have a new coach in the shape of Tony Smith. The Black and Whites announced Luke Gale as captain for the 2022 campaign but with the former Man of Steel having left for Championship side Keighley, Smith will have a decision to make. He still does have another Man of Steel in his squad, who has skippered the side before, in the shape of Danny Houghton and with Houghton being the presumed starting hooker it could make sense. Other names in the assumed leadership group would be Ligi Sao, Scott Taylor and rising star Brad Fash who won all the accolades at FCs end-of-season awards.
The team on the other side of Hull also have a new boss however Willie Peters has come in and kept the faith in fellow Shaun Kenny-Dowall who will head into his fourth season with Rovers and his third as captain. The New Zealand international impressed last season and even made the Super League Dream Team and will hope to lead a young KR squad to the playoffs following a year outside of them.
Rhinos are assumed to have Kruise Leeming as captain who took the role ahead of the 2022 season appointed by Richard Agar. After a terrible start Agar departed and Rohan Smith took over at Headingley and during that period Leeming remained skipper. With Smith heading into his first full year with the club it was thought he might make changes to the leadership group, particularly with Leeming become a bench player come the end of 2022. Despite this Leeming did lead the side out in their Boxing Day fixture but speculation remains around who will take the prestigious role of captain. The latest update on the matter came from Smith after the game where he firmly declared that “there will be no imminent announcement”, as reported here.
Leigh secured promotion from the Championship with joint captains Joe Mellor and Adam Sidlow in command but with Sidlow having left to join Salford Red Devils and a whole host of signings it remains unseen as to who will skipper the side in their return to Super League. Mellor is an obvious choice given that he led Leigh to their superb promotion but Jack Hughes arrives from Warrington, where he captained the side so he will almost certainly be in the leadership group. Hughes could partner Mellor as joint captain in a straight replacement for Sidlow but it’s unclear at the moment what Leigh will do with the club not even releasing their 2023 squad numbers.
Salford Red Devils
Another side who have had their captain move to pastures new with Elijah Taylor having signed for Championship side Featherstone Rovers. Taylor led a leadership trio that also comprised of Mark Sneyd and Man of Steel winner Brodie Croft. Sneyd offers plenty of experience so could easily step into the role left by Taylor but with Croft displaying scintillating form and being in the last year of his contract the Red Devils could try and tempt him to extend by offering him the captaincy. The 25-year-old could be primed for an NRL return if he replicates his 2022 form in the upcoming season so any way they can extend him, be it giving him the captaincy, will be on the table. They have also obviously added Sidlow, who was co-captain at Leigh, so he could find himself in a similar position.
Probably the most assured name on this list is Saints captain James Roby who at age 37 is heading into his 20th season donning the Red Vee but surprisingly only his sixth season as captain, a role he assumed from Jon Wilkin prior to the 2018 season. Roby has surpassed 500 appearances for Saints and with 16 games this season he’ll go past 450 in the Super League. Aiming for an unprecedented fifth Grand Final victory in a row Roby will be hoping to lead them out at Old Trafford again in 2023.
With the 2022 captain, Jacob Miller, having left the club one of the first tasks for Super League’s youngest head coach was to name a new captain and that man is former Saint, Matty Ashurst. The backrower will lead the club in this new era and will have Jordy Crowther, who has spent his entire career at Trinity, as his vice captain. Ashurst is heading into his ninth season at Wakefield and the 33-year-old will hope to inspire what is looking like a very young squad, in what’s looking set to be an incredibly competitive season following the investment and recruitment among all bottom half sides from 2022. With Trinity having only made four signings so far, including former Kiwi international Kevin Proctor who will presumably have some form of leadership role, Ashurst will have a trial by fire in his first year as captain.
Another side who had their skipper depart and are currently without a new leader. Jack Hughes left for Leigh and therefore the Wire don’t have a captain at present and are yet to have announced one but there’s plenty of names who could step up. The most obvious one would be Stefan Ratchford, the 34-year-old heading into his 12th season with the Wolves and having notched up almost 300 games in Primrose and Blue. Another candidate is 2017 World Cup winner, Josh McGuire who certainly has the experience and pedigree and was even asked about the prospect of being club captain at a fan evening back in November, as reported here. Whilst the prop was flattered he claimed no conversation had taken place and that coach Daryl Powell will likely make his decision during pre-season.
The last club on the last and one of the ones who have already replaced their former captain with Liam Farrell being the man to assume the role left behind by Thomas Leuluai, who has moved into a coaching role having led Wigan to Challenge Cup success in 2022. Farrell was proclaimed as the obvious choice at his official unveiling, being announced to the stage with the words: “If you could choose someone who had won four Grand Finals, three Challenge Cup finals, three League Leaders Trophy’s, 300 games for Wigan and World Club Challenge as well then there’s only one Liam Farrell isn’t there?” Farrell will head into his 14th season with Warriors and will aim to build on the Challenge Cup success and prevent rivals St Helens from securing a fifth consecutive Grand Final.