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Super League Predictions: Barrie McDermott tips upset win and reveals current ‘best player’ in Super League

Barrie McDermott

Round Three of Super League kicks off tomorrow night and Sky Sports pundit Barrie McDermott has spoken with Serious About Rugby League to offer up his predictions for all six fixtures.

Barrie McDermott was a Super League icon in his own right but he now plies his trade in the punditry game working for Super League’s leading broadcaster Sky Sports, and ahead of Round Three the ex-Leeds man has spoke with Serious About Rugby League to make his predictions.

The action starts on Friday night with three games live on Sky Sports with St Helens hosting Leigh Leopards being the feature game alongside Warrington Wolves versus Castleford Tigers, and World Club Champions Wigan Warriors against Huddersfield Giants.

Saturday sees Barrie’s former club Leeds Rhinos host Catalans Dragons but he’ll be at the AJ Bell Stadium commentating on Salford’s clash with Hull KR.

Round Three concluded on Sunday with both Hull FC and London Broncos looking to earn their first win of the season in a game that sees Tony Smith’s side under immense pressure to win.

St Helens vs Leigh Leopards

Perhaps the standout game on Friday night sees St Helens take on Leigh Leopards with Adrian Lam’s side coming off a bye week. In Paul Wellens’ side, they face a team who have started the season on fire, scoring thirteen tries and conceding just once.

Here’s what Barrie McDermott had to say: “Saints are a very close second behind Wigan. Wigan understandably started the season as favourites and with that victory at the weekend, they remain as everybody’s favourites to get back to OT.

“Saints look like they’re improving. Everyone has talked about James Roby not being part of the squad and what a difference that could make and will make, but for me, they don’t look any weaker.

“I think if you look at James Roby in 2023, what they’ve got now in Daryl Clark is an improvement. He’s playing out of his skin. They’re on the front foot. They look like the way that they play is the way that they enjoy playing and the way that they are most effective. So, I think they’ll win by 16.

“For Leigh, the bye week probably came at the wrong time, really, and they’re going to have to fit it in somewhere down the line, that may affect them worse. We all know that the squad that Leigh operates with is a small squad, so they could have probably done with it at a different time of the year, but they are where they are.”

Barrie’s Prediction: St Helens to win by 16
SARL’s Prediction: St Helens to win by 22

Warrington Wolves vs Castleford Tigers

Warrington Wolves boss Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess got his first win as a Super League head coach last week but it came in controversial circumstances when Nu Brown was sent off for Hull FC. After gaining the man advantage Warrington outscored their opponents 30-4, but they could face a stiffer test this week against Castleford Tigers.

Barrie explained: “Warrington obviously got the win last week. It was a controversial game, not without its incidents, but I do think the best team won.

“If you listen to what Sam’s saying and the players are saying, it’s very much about playing to their strengths at the minute. You could argue that FC were in it at different stages but Warrington haven’t clicked into gear yet and they’re still finding their feet.

“They’re playing a side that in theory they should beat again in Cas, they should be able to win in a way where they’re focusing on sharpening their weapons and finding those combinations and making sure that they are playing a style that they’re happy with.

“Understandably, we’ve not seen anything from Cas yet. I don’t think Craig Lingard will have learned anything about his side in the last two fixtures. So, I think it’s going to be a difficult night for Cas. I think Warrington will find a way to score and they’ll win by 12.”

He said: “People say it’s often the game after the game after, if you know what I mean. The World Club challenge takes its toll physically, mentally and emotionally, and players can historically get themselves up the week after as we saw last year at Cas when Saints returned from their WCC, but it’s sometimes that third game in the sequence.

“But my gut tells me Huddersfield have got a real chance here. BUT they’ve got to attack the game and really take it to the Warriors. They may well have picked up some bumps and bruises, but I think the emotional toll is huge, the fact that they would have spent all pre-season building up to that game and invested so much into it leaves them there for the taking. I’ll end on this note, WIgan winning last week is fantastic for SL. I don’t care how they won, the WCC stays here and that’s all that matters.

“Huddersfield, as of yet, haven’t shown anything near what they’re capable of or their potential is. Performances so far and their potential are miles apart, so for Huddersfield Giants to go into this game and win, they should approach it like they’re going to win. If they can keep the ball alive, ask some serious questions in attack and make it an energy-sapping game then they’ve got a good chance. It’ll be a tight one but I think Huddersfield can sneak it.”

Barrie’s Prediction: Huddersfield to edge it by 4
SARL’s Prediction: Wigan to win by 4

Leeds Rhinos vs Catalans Dragons

Rohan Smith and new Leeds Rhinos captain Cam Smith.

Barrie McDermott played 281 games for his beloved Rhinos and they play in the 3:00 pm game on Saturday and Rohan Smith stated midweek that he was hoping for a fast track to play on. That could well benefit Catalans as well though who have the incredible boot of Jordan Abdull at their disposal.

Here’s how Barrie assessed the game: “It’s February and it’s wet so it’s not suiting the players that the Rhinos have at their disposal at the minute. The team in 2024 in the blue and amber is fast and quick and they are hoping for a dry track. The two tries that Ash Handley has to his name already are Worldies!

“From what I saw from Catalans last week, we saw once again how devastating the kicking game of Jordan Abdull can be, what a threat Nikorima is and the pack looks as tough as ever. Jordan was the player in control of the tempo of that game, but the Catalans Dragons played well as a unit. I thought they played really well together.

“It will be a tough game for the Rhinos, but I think back to that game last year when the Rhinos were out of it with probably 30 minutes to go and they came back. The momentum was with the Rhinos and they got the win.

“I think if Leeds are going to show the league their potential and that they have the credentials this year, then with a few fresh players back fit this week this is a game that they’ve got to win, so I’m going to predict that the Rhinos can win. It’s going to be close, I think it’s a four to six point victory for Leeds.”

Barrie’s Prediction: Leeds to win by 4 to 6 points
SARL’s Prediction: Catalans to win by 4

Salford Red Devils vs Hull KR

Barrie McDermott has applauded the performances of Jai Whitbread

The later game on Saturday is the match that Barrie McDermott will be commentating on for Sky Sports as Paul Rowley’s Salford look to build on their win over Cas, but in their way is a Hull KR side that’s won two from two.

Barrie argued: “I enjoy watching the Robins at the minute and they can go into most games confidently. They’ve got some terrific performers. I thought Jai Whitbread last week was fantastic. It was a big workload from him in the middle along with George King. They’ve just got that really nice balance of workmanship, craftsmanship and some excellence, plus an X-factor with Mikey Lewis. Ryan Hall also still looks as good as ever.

“They can go into this game full of confidence and I think it’s going to be a good game with better conditions so they can try to find their attacking rhythm for longer periods. I think it’s going to be a big win for them.

“Salford play behind a good kicking game thanks to Marc Sneyd, they play an ambitious type of rugby, an unpredictable style of rugby, so it is often they are throwing things at you when you least expect it.

“I do think Hull KR are a very competent side, they can be physical when they need to be, they’ve got strike when they need to strike and I think the task will be just a bit too much for Paul Rowley’s team.”

Barrie’s Prediction: Hull KR to win big
SARL’s Prediction: Hull KR to win by 10

Hull FC vs London Broncos

Super League Disciplinary

After watching both London Broncos matches so far in 2024, few will have a better insight than Barrie McDermott. The newly-promoted side head north to face a Hull FC team that have been in disarray so far this season.

Here’s what Barrie had to say: “It’ll be really interesting, it will be really interesting. I’ve called both London Broncos games live for Sky Sports and they’ve definitely got better in the second from the first.

“For me, they probably haven’t got enough nouse or IQ at this level yet. The half-backs are a bit green, a bit raw. Dean Parata is probably the classiest player in the ranks but he spent the last two games defending. They don’t have a huge amount of options, I think they’re just in survival mode, London, they’re learning as they go along. They’ve been good in flashes but that’s not enough at the top level.

“Hull at this early stage are under a mountain of pressure. Not just with the fact that players aren’t available, they feel the pressure from external forces as well. The fans expected more of them, they’re not happy that they’re not winning and it gets tougher every week. So I think it’s going to be a really difficult game.

“If I had to put my money anywhere, it would be on Hull, but I think that’s just because of the lack of experience that the Broncos have got at this level. ”

Barrie’s Prediction: Hull FC to win
SARL’s Prediction: Hull FC to win by 12 points

Barrie McDermott reveals his star signing so far

Barrie McDermott believes that Daryl Clark has been the signing of the season so far

The Super League season might just be two games old but plenty of players have stood out already. Tyrone May and Jordan Abdull both moved in opposite directions and both have impressed with their new clubs. Another Catalans’ departure saw Matt Whitley join St Helens where he’s been incredible, however, it’s another Saints’ signing that Barrie thinks has been the best piece of business so far.

“For me, I haven’t seen a better player in SL than Daryl Clark this year,” Barrie revealed.

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