We’re now in the New Year, with the start of the Super League season less than a month away.
With that in mind, what New Years Resolution will each team be making in 2020?
Castleford Tigers – Create a solid spine
One of the Tigers’ main problems in the past two years has been disruption to the creative spine. The likes of Luke Gale and Ben Roberts have all had injury or suspension problems and have since moved on. Their replacements, though, are cause for excitement. In Jake Trueman and new recruit Danny Richardson, Cas have a halves partnership with unbelievable potential. The pair are among Super League’s top young talents and could be in for stellar seasons if they can gel together. That will also allow Peter Mata’utia to focus all his energy on the fullback position, while Jordan Rankin remains as the backup utility.
Catalan Dragons – Be consistent
For years, Catalans’ consistency has proved to be their kryptonite. On their day they can be unbeatable but seem to struggle to deliver top performances on a regular basis. It has been blamed on travel and changing climate in the past but, in the age of technology and conditioning standards, there are ways around that. Look at Toronto, for example. There no doubting the Dragons will claim a couple of big scalps during 2020, it’s just a case of showing up every week.
Huddersfield Giants – ‘All hail Sezer’
The success of Huddersfield in 2020 will rely heavily on new signing Aidan Sezer. The 28-year-old has been brought in to inspire the Giants’ attack and give them a creative edge that was lacking last season. A superb organiser and talker, Sezer will take the pressure off Lee Gaskell and allow him and new fullback Ashton Golding to play supporting roles going forward.
Hull FC – Accommodate everyone
The off-season has seen the Black and Whites have somewhat of a clear out, though not to the extent of their East Hull rivals. Lee Radford has signed eight and moved on 10, giving him a more compact squad for 2020. The only ‘problem’ is the amount of quality, especially in the outside backs. FC have eight Super League quality players fighting for those five positions, and that’s excluding top youngsters Connor Wynne and Cameron Scott. Radford’s got one heck of a balancing act on his plate, but it could turn out to be a master stroke.
Hull KR – Play as one unit
While FC may have been busy in the transfer market, that’s nothing compared to the Robins. They’ve made a massive 20 new signings, retaining just 11 of last season’s squad that diced with relegation. Such a huge overhaul has obvious risks, the main one being that they’ll need time to gel. There’s a big difference between a team and a groups of individuals, so Tony Smith needs to ensure his side are all reading from the same hymn sheet if they want any sort of improvement on 2019.
Leeds Rhinos – A leader
Trent Merrin’s departure leaves a big hole right in the middle of the Rhinos’ squad. His appointment as skipper mid-way through 2019 changed the club’s fortunes significantly and he would have been the perfect person to lead them into the new season. He’s now returned to Australia, though, meaning someone else must step up. Stevie Ward has been named as the new captain and, as a Leeds fan growing up, will be relishing the responsibility. He’ll have support from the likes of Adam Cuthbertson and Luke Gale in terms of leadership but must assert his authority and show he deserves the armband.
Salford Red Devils – More Watson magic
Salford’s sensational 2019 season will go down in history as one of the club’s all-time highlights, but it could have hurt them going into 2020. Their success has seen several players poached by other clubs, with Jackson Hastings, Josh Jones and George Griffin among those departing. As replacements, the Red Devils have stuck to their previous recruiting pattern, picking up players either out of favour or from lower league clubs. Again, it will be up to Ian Watson to turn those players into title contenders.
St Helens – Same again, please
Saints were unstoppable for most of last season and fully deserved both the League Leaders Shield and Super League title. It goes without saying then, really, that they’ll be going for a similar outcome in 2020. New coach Kristian Woolf inherits a team with an established chemistry and style, which should make his transition easier. Saints have trimmed their squad slightly and will be relying on their youngsters for depth but can almost be certain they’ll be up there again come Autumn.
Toronto Wolfpack – Make an impression
After three years of growth, determination and ambition, the Wolfpack will finally embark on their maiden Super League campaign in 2020. All eyes will be on the Canadian side, who have created quite the media storm around the world, especially after signing global superstar Sonny Bill Williams. Their main aim will be to hit the ground running and prove they deserve their place in Super League
Wakefield Trinity – Re-find 2017 form
It’s not that long ago that Wakefield were pushing for the play-offs. Now, however, they’re looking to bounce back from a disappointing 9th place finish. In 2017, Chris Chester’s side finished in fifth, winning 16 of their 30 games and just one point behind current champions St Helens that season. Their style was built on expansive, entertaining rugby, where they would look to pull defences into the middle before spreading the ball wide to the outside backs. It’s hard to tell, though, whether they’ve strayed away from that style or oppositions simply aren’t letting them play that way. A change in tactics, perhaps, may be what’s needed but there’s no doubt that, on paper, Trinity have a good enough squad to challenge for the top five.
Warrington Wolves – Get Austin and Widdop firing
It’s a joke that’s almost as old as time but Steve Price will be looking to knock the ‘always your year’ tag on the head in 2020. With a world class halfback pairing and additional quality all over the field, it’s the best chance the club have had in a while to pick up some Super League silverware. Austin and Widdop are the kind of players Price can build a squad around, and he’s already halfway there with the likes of Daryl Clark, Stefan Ratchford and Ben Murdoch-Masila all suiting a similar style of play. Wire’s only issue could be a lack of quality depth, but there’s still rumours of a new signing in the forwards.
Wigan Warriors – Allow Hastings to settle
Arguably, if Wigan are to win a trophy in 2020, they need the best version of Jackson Hastings. He’s the kind of player who can win them not just a game, but the season as a whole if he settles and performs consistently. There’s been talk in the off-season questioning his commitment to the Warriors, which has since been shunned off, but if he fires and strikes up a combination with Thomas Leuluai and Zak Hardaker, Wigan could be a force to be reckoned with.