Well the wait is almost over for the new Super League season, so let’s have a look at the odds before Thursday’s opening game.
I’m going to focus on who the bookies fancy to finish top of the table as the Grand Final isn’t until October and anything could happen by then.
Champions St Helens are 9/4 favourites for a third League Leaders’ Shield in a row as they begin life under Tonga coach Kristian Woolf.
Despite not signing anyone and losing Justin Holbrook, Woolf knows how to handle a talented bunch of players and this should be a smooth changeover.
Saints look very settled and are throwing the gauntlet down to the rest of the league to try and catch them, with James Roby likely to lead from the front once again.
Whilst I don’t see them dominating to the extent of 2019, I feel they will still be the best team in the competition and therefore I think their odds are more than generous.
Next in the betting are Wigan at 3/1 who, after a terrible start, eventually finished second last year.
There’s no way in my mind that the Warriors should be this close to St Helens in the betting, even with the signings of Jackson Hastings and George Burgess.
They were miles behind Saints last year and I haven’t seen enough to suggest they can bridge that gap, even if they have a better start.
As always they will be a big threat in the play-offs and will fancy an Old Trafford date against the Red V, but Wigan like leaving gas in the tank for the latter stages of the season.
In fact, the Warriors haven’t won the League Leaders’ Shield since 2012, although they did go close in Leeds Rhinos’ treble-winning year of 2015.
Up next are Warrington at 4/1, who will be looking to end their Old Trafford hoodoo this year after bringing in the likes of Gareth Widdop and Anthony Gelling.
Widdop’s combination with Blake Austin will be key and I expect Daryl Clark to make the England number nine shirt his own as we head towards an Ashes Series.
Despite their obvious quality, I do think Wire are just a little behind the top two at the moment and the bookies probably have it about right with the odds.
Next are perennial dark horses Hull at 10/1 who, after signings the likes of Mane Ma’u, Ligi Sao, Mane Fonua and Josh Jones, will be a threat in 2020.
However, whilst the excitement around the KCOM Stadium is justified and they look a good bet for the play-offs, you get the feeling that something always goes wrong at Hull.
Leeds are next at 12/1 and they should improve with signings Luke Gale, Kruise Leeming and Alex Mellor.
The Rhinos have flirted with relegation for three of the last four seasons so you would think fifth place is a more realistic target for Richard Agar.
As we look further down it’s slightly confusing that Catalans (16/1) are favoured over Castleford (20/1) because despite the Dragons recruiting James Maloney, their away form is usually a huge stumbling block.
Castleford, however, have been in the top five for the last three seasons and have made a great acquisition in former Dream Team member Danny Richardson.
He could form an exciting half-back partnership with Jake Trueman and with experienced players surrounding them, I fancy the Tigers to be in the top four.
Last year’s Grand Finalists Salford will divide opinion with a big turnover in players, but I think they may surprise a few again this season.
The Red Devils are priced at 50/1 for the shield and although I think they’ll be just outside the play-offs, they have signed well with Kevin Brown and Dan Sarginson recovering the losses of Jackson Hatsings and Jake Bibby.
Newly-promoted Toronto Wolfpack are priced the same at 50/1 but I, like many others, feel they may find life tough in their first year of Super League.
Despite Sonny Bill Williams joining, the club possess a small squad and are struggling with the salary cap so there will be plenty of takers of the 6/1 that they finish bottom.
Completing the betting are Wakefield at 66/1, with both Hull KR and Huddersfield at 100/1 in what should be another close battle to avoid relegation.
Rovers are favourites to finish bottom at 9/4. Tony Smith has overseen a huge turnover in players and it might take a while for them to gel.
The signing of NRL Grand Finalist Aidan Sezer could help Huddersfield, with the Giants 3/1 for the drop under Simon Woolford.
Wakefield are 11/2 to be relegated but I think they will have enough to stay up with the class of Tom Johnstone on the wing, as well as recruits Joe Westerman and Romain Navarette.
There are plenty of other markets to pick winners from, including top try-scorer, Man of Steel and Dream Team, with Sporting Index even pricing up top tackler and offloads. Click here for those markets.
Check out our YouTube channel for betting reviews for most of the live games this season. As always, please gamble responsibly.
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