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Predicting the Super League side to end Saints-Wigan dominance

Hull KR to break St Helens and Wigan Warriors dominance

Whilst there’s always plenty of drama in a Super League season, one thing has been true across the 28 completed campaigns and that’s been that one of just four sides would lift the trophy at Old Trafford. Has a new contender emerged to shake that up though in Hull KR?

The stats that just four teams have lifted the Super League crown in the 28 completed seasons doesn’t even do that level of dominance any justice, for the past near-20 years it’s only been three teams that have had a sniff at the title following Bradford Bull’s fall from the glory days.

Even the past six seasons, and potentially this ongoing season, have seen one of those remaining three champion teams fall out of favour with Leeds Rhinos’ last taste of Super League success coming in 2017 and the club currently out of the playoffs, just like last year.

2018 onwards has seen the Good Friday dominance with Wigan Warriors book-ending St Helens four consecutive titles, and those teams look primed to go close again this season given that they sit joint-top of the table after a third of the season has eclipsed.

If it’s not Matt Peet or Paul Wellens lifting the Grand Final in October then it could be Sam Burgess, but we’ve been here before with Warrington. One team that has slowly begun the ascent to the top and holds ambitions to disrupt the current Wigan-Saints dominance though is Hull KR, and they’ve just tied down the keystone piece to their possible success.

How important is it that Hull KR have signed Willie Peters to a long-term deal?

Elliot Minchella and head coach Willie Peters of Hull KR celebrate the win over St Helens.

Credit: Imago Images

It was confirmed last night that Hull KR had pinned down head coach Willie Peters for another four years, with the Australian signing a deal until the end of the 2028 season. To describe Petets’ contract extension as the signing of the season would be an insult to the man, Hull KR and the club’s CEO Paul Lakin who has overseen much of the current project at Craven Park.

Willie Peters is fast becoming one of the most desirable head coaches on the market and the NRL had seemingly already come calling for the ex-Newcastle Knights assistant. Just recently. Peters had to clarify his contract situation and commitment to Hull KR after reports down under placed him among a list of names to take over at another of his former clubs in South Sydney Rabbitohs.

During that presser, Peters explained: “Do I have (NRL) aspirations down the track? Yeah, I do. But I’ve got a job here that I want to fulfil – and hopefully I can fulfil that for a while.

“There’s a vision at the club that I share. We’ve started a job and I’d like to stay and finish it.”

Just how big that vision is remains to be seen but Peters has taken the club to another Challenge Cup semi-final, just a year after taking Hull KR to Wembley and to the Super League playoff semi-finals.

Former head coach Tony Smith had guided the Robins to the semi-final stage in each competition but those seasons felt like underdog stories, this current campaign it is starting to feel like that is what Hull KR fans expect and feel it is where they belong.

With Willie Peters in charge, the Robins’ fans will carry on that sense of expectation and belonging for at least another four years, by which point they could well have lifted silverware for the first time since 1985.

What Willie Peters must fix for the Robins to be contenders

Willie Peters Hull KR

Credit: Imago Images

One of the current themes of Sky Sports’ analysis is the question of ‘Pretenders or Contenders’, and whilst Hull KR failed to meet the mark of ‘Contenders’ in their most recent game against Warrington Wolves, they had taken points from both Wigan Warriors and St Helens in the previous two weeks.

After avenging their Challenge Cup Final defeat to Leigh by knocking the holders out in the quarters at a packed-out Craven Park, Hull KR embarked on a four-game block of Super League games against three of the most recent four sides to make the Grand Final and the other up-and-coming side in Warrington Wolves.

Ironically, KR beat both sides that have lifted that precision silverware but lost to Catalans and Warrington, those defeats bookending a fortnight of celebration in East Hull after Peters’ side dismantled Wigan and St Helens.

The issue in defeat was that Hull KR were on the road, with the stats showing that the Robins have one of the widest margins of victory to loss depending on if they’re at home or away.

The loss to Warrington came in Round 11 of this current campaign, going back to that same Round from the 2023 season shows that Hull KR have lost 11 of their 16 away Super League games. By contrast, they’ve won 12 of their 15 games at Craven Park in Super League during that period.

An 80% win rate at home, is hampered by a 31% win rate on the road. If Hull KR can become a side that can force home playoff games then it’s not anywhere near as big a concern, but currently, their league form on the road is dragging them down and out of those top two spots.

Will Hull KR become the fifth different team to ever win Super League?

Willie Peters Hull KR

Credit: Imago Images

Ascending from the bottom of Super League to the top is all well and good for a moment in time but it only means something if you lift silverware. Castleford Tigers could be a prime example of that with the side looking to be in an IMG dogfight to retain their place in Super League, yet only seven years ago they were in the Grand Final.

KR’s neighbours across the city are comparable with the club currently in crisis, without a head coach, without a win in nine and having just lost to London Broncos, all the while Hull KR are on the ascent. For the Black and Whites, they can boast their back-to-back Challenge Cups though, but they certainly won’t be enjoying seeing the Robins rising.

It’s evident that Hull KR need to fix up their away form, but the current trajectory is already landing some massive recruits which is a testament to Willie Peters who is a coach that is inspiring change, and with that, attracting stars. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves heads to Craven Park next season in what is arguably one of the most iconic NRL names to arrive in Super League for a long time.

He might be 35 but he’s been labelled as a “massive coup” by someone who knows plenty about the Kiwi forward, with ex-Leeds Rhinos forward Matt Adamson speaking to Serious About Rugby League about what an influential signing it is.

“I think he’ll be outstanding and become a real crowd favourite for the whole KR fans. And they’re doing a phenomenal job,” Adamson explained.

“He suits the British game down to the ground. He is a massive coup for the competition because that’s what fans want to see more of, especially over there, that physicality and aggression that British forwards are known for.”

KR’s recruitment has already been elite with every single signing for the 2024 season playing a significant part with Peta Hiku, Niall Evalds and Joe Burgess cementing star roles in the backline, whilst Jack Broadbent has scored two in two when filling in at short notice for another impressive recruit in Ollie Gildart. The ex-Wakefield Trinity due of Jai Whitbread and Kelepi Tanginoa have brought power to the pack and that will be further boosted by JWH next year.

Credit: Imago Images

In short, Hull KR are already recruiting like an elite team, their home form is that of an elite team, their head coach is among Super League’s very best, and with a touch-up of their away form, the Robins surely have to be viewed as the biggest threat to the St Helens and Wigan era of dominance.

Another trip to Wembley thanks to another win over Wigan Warriors this weekend would do no harm in elevating their status even further too.

On his new deal, Peters surmised brilliantly what he has intended (and succeeded) to do: “The goal that I had and what I continue to have is make our community proud, for the team to make the community proud and that’s not just on field, but off it too. Once you’ve got everyone sharing the same vision, great things happen off the back of that.”

The question now remains, what first for Hull KR? A trip to Wembley or a trip to Old Trafford, we’ll know more this time next week.

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