Yesterday the fifth round of Super League came to a close and it was another story and action packed weekend which has left the Betfred Super League table in an interesting place moving forward.
After five rounds some of the league’s biggest sides are languishing in the bottom six whilst some surprise packages have pushed themselves into the early play-off picture.
But which coaches will be the happiest after five rounds of the season?
12. Richard Agar – Leeds Rhinos
Many Leeds fans believed 2022 was the year they would become a true contender again. By October it’ll be five years since Leeds last played in a Grand Final and the arrival of Aidan Sezer, Blake Austin, James Bentley and David Fusitu’a had Leeds fans dreaming of Super League glory. But after five games, Leeds have just one win and simply weren’t at the races on Thursday night against Hull FC as they lost 31-8 looking more like the side Richard Agar took over in 2019 who were staring relegation in the face. After that game, Agar criticised his team for a lack of intensity and intent but believed he could still turn things around.
11. Lee Radford – Castleford Tigers
Like Leeds, Castleford’s recruitment had fans believing they could push for the top four in 2022. But an opening night defeat to Salford stopped them instantly in their tracks and since then they’ve only picked up one win and languish 11th in the Super League table. New coach Lee Radford won’t be happy with that and also voiced his disappointment at the new rules which have seen a number of yellow cards shown over the course of the season. He voiced his annoyance with this after yesterday’s defeat to Huddersfield claiming rugby league would soon be like netball.
10. Willie Poching – Wakefield Trinity
Another West Yorkshire side who only have one win, like Leeds and Castleford there was an air of optimism going into 2022 at Wakefield after the way they finished last season. However, they’ve only won once and that was against the winless Toulouse on the back of a disappointing defeat to Leeds. Yes, they have injuries and this is why they’re higher up than their local rivals but things certainly haven’t gone to plan at Belle Vue just yet.
9. Sylvain Houles – Toulouse Olympique
Toulouse may be winless, but there have been some encouraging signs in the opening five rounds. Against Warrington and Wigan at home – two of the toughest sides around – Toulouse made a good account of themselves and probably should’ve beaten Wigan. They also went close away to Wakefield this weekend. They’ll soon pick a first win of the season and could be a difficult opponent at home. Houles will be pleased that Olly Ashall-Bott has settled in and added a new dimension to their attack and that his side have quickly gotten over the loss of Johnathan Ford and Mark Kheirallah.
8. Paul Rowley – Salford Red Devils
If I’d have done this list after Round Two, Rowley would be much higher up. However, humbling defeats to Hull FC and Huddersfield set the Red Devils back and they were again beaten by Hull KR on Friday. Certainly not panic stations for a very good coach who has said he knows where his side are in their development and has been able to take positives and lessons in defeat, Salford will be looking to improve in the coming weeks but already have two wins.
7. Tony Smith – Hull KR
Hull KR are yet to hit their stride in 2022 but still have two wins to their name with the likes of Mikey Lewis catching the eye. Without star signing Lachlan Coote, Hull KR look competitive in most games and when he and others return the Robins could get back to what they were doing best in 2021 and challenging for a place in the top six.
6. Daryl Powell – Warrington Wolves
Two defeats in a row for Warrington have halted their fast start to the season but even in their three wins things weren’t as good as you’d expect from a star-studded Wire side. They were lucky to beat a 12-man Leeds team in Round One and were given a scare by Toulouse in Round Three. There’s room for improvement but at least their two defeats have come against last year’s top two.
5. Brett Hodgson – Hull FC
No doubt still unhappy with his side’s inconsistency, at least Hodgson’s men have more wins than losses despite a number of notable absentees. Their win at Leeds on Thursday was particularly impressive and showed the potential of this side.
4. Matt Peet – Wigan Warriors
Last night’s defeat to Catalans no doubt took away a lot of gloss from Wigan’s strong start to 2022 as they were humbled by Catalans after an unconvincing win over Toulouse last week. However, there is still a lot to be happy about where Peet is concerned. His side have attacked really well for the most part and seem to have more confidence than in 2021. The test is maintaining that confidence after a first defeat last night.
3. Steve McNamara – Catalans Dragons
When the Dragons comfortably lost in Round One to the Champions, it could’ve been panic stations especially as they lost key players left right and centre. But after five rounds, Catalans are third with four wins on the bounce including victories over Leeds, Warrington and Wigan. Looking like the major threat to St Helens in 2022, McNamara will be happy with results after a turbulent start to the season.
2. Kristian Woolf – St Helens
Unbeaten and being tipped by some to go the season without defeat, St Helens look as good as ever in 2022 as they go in search for a fourth consecutive title. They’ve already beaten last year’s league leaders Catalans and rivals Warrington in the first five games and look almost perfect in every department.
1. Ian Watson – Huddersfield Giants
There are few things as enjoyable as proving the doubters wrong in rugby league, and Ian Watson is doing just that at Huddersfield. After a difficult 2021, the Giants are second in the table after five rounds and have looked very good so far this season with players still to return in the shape of Jake Wardle and Theo Fages. Watson also got to enjoy a first win over former club Salford Red Devils.