The 27th Super League season starts the same way the 26th ended as St Helens host Catalans in a Grand Final rematch as Super League returns with a bang. The two favourites for glory at the end of the campaign will be looking to get off to a strong start, but the question remains will the Champions or the challengers set off quicker as the race to the Grand Final begins?
For St Helens there’s been quite a bit of change this winter. The Champions have bid farewell to key players like Lachlan Coote and Theo Fages and have subsequently entrusted Lewis Dodd and Jack Welsby to take their places in the spine. They’ve also recruited wisely elsewhere in their squad with NRL signings Curtis Sironen, Joey Lussick and Will Hopoate adding definite quality. Yes, there’s some new faces but it could be business as usual in 2022 as the Saints seem well placed to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive title.
Catalans have only suffered one major loss this winter and that was James Maloney to the Elite One Championship. Instead of looking within like the Champions, last year’s League Leaders instead recruited high profile Australian halfback Mitchell Pearce whilst also adding further depth to their squad in the shape of Tyrone May and Dylan Napa. With arguably a stronger squad than last year, the Dragons could very well go one better in 2022.
As both sides look to get off to positive starts in 2022, you can watch the action from 8pm on Thursday live on Sky Sports Main Event.
The new era at St Helens could begin with debuts for Will Hopoate, Joey Lussick and Curtis Sironen who are all included in the 21-man squad as is former Leeds man Konrad Hurrell who could be handed a first start with Regan Grace missing out as the only injury concern for the Champions. There won’t be a debut for former Leigh man James Bell despite a try scoring appearance in Alex Walmsley’s testimonial. Morgan Knowles is fit to play having overcome an off-season injury.
21-man squad: 1 Jack Welsby, 2 Tommy Makinson, 3 Will Hopoate, 4 Mark Percival, 6 Jonny Lomax, 7 Lewis Dodd, 8 Alex Walmsley, 9 James Roby, 10 Matty Lees, 11 Sione Mata’utia, 12 Joe Batchelor, 13 Morgan Knowles, 14 Joey Lussick, 15 Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 16 Curtis Sironen, 17 Agnatius Paasi, 18 Kyle Amor, 19 Jake Wingfield, 21 Josh Simm, 22 Ben Davies, 23 Konrad Hurrell.
The big news for Catalans is of course the absence of livewire Arthur Mourgue who so often gave Catalans another dimension off the bench last year. His injury opens the door for Alrix Da Costa to make his first competitive appearance for some time on Thursday. Meanwhile, skipper Ben Garcia and forward Julian Bousquet return having missed the friendly against Toulouse. There’s also possible Super League debuts for Mitchell Pearce, Tyrone May and Dylan Napa who are all included as are youngsters Matthieu Laguerre and Joe Chan.
21-man squad: 2 Tom Davies, 3 Samisoni Langi, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Fouad Yaha, 6 Mitchell Pearce, 7 Josh Drinkwater, 8 Gil Dudson, 9 Michael McIlorum, 10 Julian Bousquet, 11 Matt Whitley, 12 Mike McMeeken, 13 Ben Garcia, 14 Alrix Da Costa, 17 Mickael Goudemand, 18 Matthieu Laguerre, 20 Tyrone May, 22 Dylan Napa, 23 Jordan Dezaria, 27 Joe Chan, 28 Sam Kasiano, 29 Sam Tomkins.