As we prepare to enter the final month of 2023, the dust has now firmly settled on last season and attentions are fully on the 2024 Super League campaign.
Many teams have now completed their transfer business and are starting to return to pre-season, with a number of friendly matches to take place over the festive period in preparation for the new season.
With this in mind and based on what we know so far in terms of player recruitment, we have made an extra early prediction on how we think the Super League table will look by the end of the 2024 campaign.
12. London Broncos
Under Mike Eccles, London achieved the impossible in 2022 as they gained promotion to Super League after languishing in the lower reaches of the Championship for much of the season. It was a remarkable turnaround from the capital club who repeated their heroics of 2018 in Toronto by going to another country and defying the odds again – this time against Toulouse in the Grand Final. When the Broncos were last in Super League in 2019 under Danny Ward, they surprised many after they were tipped to not win a single game. Despite eventually falling to relegation, it only came via points differential on the final game of the season after more than holding their own in the top-flight. This time around they face a similar challenge, with many writing them off and predicting they will struggle for points. There is a clear belief at this club under Eccles, but unless they sign some more players then it seems inevitable that they will fall short and return to the Championship at the first attempt.
11. Castleford Tigers
After a poor 2023 season, Castleford come into 2024 with a complete clean slate. New head coach Craig Lingard and assistant coach Danny McGuire head up a completely overhauled squad that will be pretty much unrecognisable from that team that took to the field last season. Among their new additions are Luke Hooley from Leeds Rhinos, Sam Wood and Rowan Milnes from Hull KR and overseas acquisitions Sylvester Namo, Elie El Zakhem and Nixon Putt. It’s a fresh start for the Tigers, however there is an argument that on paper their team is actually not much stronger than last season. The key for Cas is making The Jungle a tough place to visit again, with their home form vital to them climbing the table. The problem Lingard and the Tigers face though is that the rest of Super League looks very strong in comparison to them, so it’s hard to see anything other than them battling it out at the bottom again.
10. Salford Red Devils
Salford have lost arguably their two best players in Brodie Croft and Andy Ackers, this coming after a tough season under Paul Rowley in 2022. The Red Devils went within 80 minutes of the Grand Final in 2022, but last season was a struggle in comparison despite some impressive victories scattered throughout the season. Missing the play-offs was a blow for Salford in the last campaign and now without Croft and Ackers, it would be hard to find anyone outside of Salford who believes they can make the top six in 2024. Issues off the field related to the AJ Bell Stadium continue to hang over the club and despite some impressive signings in the shape of Nene Macdonald, Cade Cust and Joe Shorrocks, it’s hard to see the Red Devils not slipping further down the table next year.
9. Huddersfield Giants
The pressure will be on Ian Watson coming into the 2024 season after a disappointing campaign last time out. It came after Huddersfield finished third in 2022, reaching the Challenge Cup Final and then seemingly, on paper anyway, improving their squad for 2023. Despite that, new signings like Jake Connor struggled to fit into the Giants style of play and after flirting with the relegation zone for much of the season, they eventually finished ninth. Unsurprisingly, given the quality of their squad, losing 16 of 27 games has put pressure on Watson heading into another new season, with Hull FC duo Adam Swift and Andre Savelio and NRL players Thomas Deakin and Jack Murchie among their new recruits. There is a feeling among many that some of the players Watson has at Huddersfield and his style of play don’t mix, that was proven last season and unfortunately, we think the Giants may struggle again, with a repeat of the same issues looking a distinct possibility.
8. Hull FC
Another side who struggled last season were Hull FC, with head coach Tony Smith unable to bring more consistency to the club. Consistency is something that has eluded the Airlie Birds for what seems like forever now, with Super League’s annual underachievers unable to build any sort of serious challenge at silverware since the departure of Lee Radford. Another mini overhaul has taken place at the MKM Stadium for 2024 with the club’s quota spots the centre of their recruitment strategy. Fa’amanu Brown, Jayden Okunbor, Franklin Pele, Herman Ese’ese and Damel Diakhate are among those arriving from overseas, with Jack Ashworth, Liam Tindall, Jack Walker and Morgan Smith completing their incomings. A new-look squad for Hull, but again on paper it’s hard to see a dramatic improvement given the quality they have lost, so another similar season potentially awaits.
7. Warrington Wolves
It’s all change at Warrington ahead of 2024 with Sam Burgess the surprise name in the hot seat at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. Burgess arrives with no experience as a head coach but is not a complete novice, having assisted within the South Sydney Rabbitohs backroom staff since retirement. The 34-year-old will be one of the youngest coaches in Super League history, however it’s unlikely he will have to demand the respect of his players having enjoyed a sensational career. Burgess will take on an impressive squad that will include the likes of new signings Sam Powell, Brad Dwyer, Zane Musgrove and Lachlan Fitzgibbon. The challenge for the former England captain will be getting the best out of a playing group that clearly have the potential, with the Wolves dominating the league early last year before a mid-season collapse that saw Daryl Powell sacked. Burgess will look to avoid a similar fate, but you can’t help feeling that with the expectation and his lack of experience, it’s going to be tough.
6. Catalans Dragons
It was Grand Final heartbreak again for Catalans in 2023 as they just came up short at Old Trafford against Wigan. It compounded a tough end to the season for the Dragons who spent much of the 2023 campaign top of the Super League table. Some late-season inconsistency saw them surrender top spot to the Warriors, before defeat at the last hurdle saw defeat in the final game for many of their retiring players. Head coach Steve McNamara is now tasked with keeping the French outfit in contention for silverware in 2024, a difficult challenge having lost Sam Tomkins and Mitchell Pearce to retirement. Adding to that the departures of Adam Keighran, Tyrone May and Matt Whitley, leaves the Dragons without many of their key players over the last few seasons. However, the club have recruited well in Theo Fages, Chris Satae, Jayden Nikorima, Tariq Sims and Bayley Sironen, meaning that though we expect a drop off from the Dragons in 2024, they should still have enough to make the top six.
5. Leeds Rhinos
Changes were needed at Headingley after an underwhelming season last time out and changes they have made, with Rohan Smith under pressure to deliver. The spine of the Rhinos team has been completely transformed with Richie Myler, Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer all departing the club. The new number one, six and seven will be comprised of Lachie Miller, Brodie Croft and Matt Frawley, while Andy Ackers also arrives to take the number nine jersey. Paul Momirovski is another impressive recruit in the centres, giving the club an adequate replacement for Nene Macdonald who certainly is the club’s biggest loss after impressing in 2023. Success for Leeds next season will depend on how their new signings gel, but on the face of it their squad does look capable of challenging. A lack of size and power in the forwards is where they may come unstuck, but like many we are expecting better from the Rhinos in 2024.
4. Hull KR
Willie Peters did a fantastic job during his first season at Hull KR as the club reached the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley and went within 80 minutes of the Super League Grand Final. Looking at their squad for 2024 and it’s hard to argue against them improving further, with some impressive signings coming through the door at Craven Park. Niall Evalds, Oliver Gildart and Tyrone May have all proven themselves in Super League, while Peta Hiku, AJ Wallace and Wakefield duo Jai Whitbread and Kelepi Tanginoa also look like decent pick-ups. The biggest loss will be that of captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall through retirement, but there is definitely a feeling that those coming in add more quality than those that have departed the East Hull club. Peters is a fantastic coach and the Robins certainly look in a good position to compete in the upper reaches of Super League again next season.
3. Leigh Leopards
What a season Leigh enjoyed in 2023. Against all the odds the newly promoted Leopards stormed to Challenge Cup success while also finishing comfortably in the top six. Derek Beaumont and Adrian Lam have created something special at the Leigh Sports Village, but the challenge now is to follow up that success and avoid second-season syndrome – a curse for teams in Premier League football following a successful first top-flight season. It’s very hard to see where Leigh will struggle though, having kept hold of pretty much all their key players and adding more quality to their squad. Matt Moylan headlines their incomings, with Dan Norman and Ben McNamara also impressive recruits. Those added to the quality they already have in Zak Hardaker, Lachlan Lam and Edwin Ipape will see the Leopards enjoy another fantastic campaign.
2. St Helens
It will be an unusual feeling for St Helens next season who for the first time in five years will enter a Super League campaign not as the reigning champions. That comes after Paul Wellens, in his first season as a head coach, was unable to guide the Saints to an incredible fifth successive title after an agonising defeat in the play-off semi-finals to Catalans Dragons. That was the second heartbreaking semi-final loss for Wellens’ side in 2023 who were also edged out by Leigh in the Challenge Cup, leaving them without a domestic trophy for the first season in a long time. The retirement of club legends James Roby and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook will certainly leave a big hole both on and off the pitch next season, but the signings of Daryl Clark and Matt Whitley have gone some way to filling that void. One more new signing is expected ahead of 2024 and there is a feeling that is certainly needed given how well 2023 champions Wigan have recruited. Saints are still full of class and they will need the likes of Jack Welsby, Jonny Lomax and Lewis Dodd to be at their very best next season if they are to knock Wigan off and return back to the top of the Super League tree.
1. Wigan Warriors
Reigning champions Wigan look as strong as ever heading into next year. Matt Peet has done a fantastic job at the DW Stadium, winning every major domestic honour in his first two years in charge. Last season the Warriors ended the season with 10 straight wins to top the league and win the Super League title, something that in truth did look unlikely midway through the season. On paper Wigan have recruited extremely well again next season, with Catalans duo Adam Keighran and Tiaki Chan joined by Sam Walters, Kruise Leeming and England international Luke Thompson in signing for the Warriors. Despite losing Sam Powell, Kai Pearce-Paul and Morgan Smithies, the cherry and whites still look the strongest team in the league, especially with electric full-back Jai Field, reigning Man of Steel Bevan French and Golden Boot contender Harry Smith. This is a side littered with class and it will take something extra special to stop Wigan dominating in 2024.