The opening Round of Super League kicks off tonight.
It is always important to get off to a winning start but which teams will be able to get those first two points on the board.
Here’s our Round One prediction:
Thursday 16th February
Warrington vs Leeds. 8:00pm Kick-off. Sky Sports Main Event
Warrington and Leeds kick-off the 2023 Super League season in a repeat of the opening game from last season. Warrington were victorious on that occasion, winning 20-22 at Headingley, however Leeds walked away with the spoils on their previous visit to the Wire, winning 4-40 in June.
Both teams are missing key players ahead of the game. Warrington are without new signing Gil Dudson, who misses out through injury, as well as Josh Maguire, who misses out through suspension. The Rhinos will be missing prop Mikolaj Oledzki, James Bentley, Harry Newman and Max Simpson, all through injury. New signings Luke Hooley and Nene Macdonald are also missing through injury.
The Rhinos look thread bare at centre, especially with the injuries to Newman, Simpson and Macdonald. Derrell Olpherts could cover there whilst Liam Tindall could feature allowing AshHandley or David Fusitu’a to feature there. But they are lacking an out and out centre and that could cost them in Warrington. Oledzki is also a massive miss for the Rhinos, and without him they look a different squad.
This game will be very close, but I’m predicting a Warrington to win 24-18; however it could either way.
Friday 17th February
Wakefield Trinity vs Catalans Dragons. 7:30pm Kick-off.
This is a huge game for Wakefield. One of Super League’s top clubs coming to them on round one without star player Sam Tompkins; it is a great chance for them to silence the talk of relegation.
Wakefield are set to give Super League debuts to new signings Kevin Proctor, Renouf Atoni and former Dragon Samisoni Langi, as all are selected in the match-day squad. These players all bring experience that could be crucial against Catalans.
Catalans will be looking to get their season off to a good start in their pursuit of a play-off place, and they could do this on Friday. A strong first performance is crucial for them to build consistency in 2023.
Wakefield could pull off a shock; however my prediction is a Catalans victory at Belle Vue by 22-12.
Leigh Leopards vs Salford Red Devils. 8:00pm Kick-off. Sky Sports Arena.
Leigh return to Super League this weekend after a year in the Championship, and welcome Salford to the Leigh Sports Village.
Leigh have recruited very well this offseason, and could hand new signings Zak Hardaker, Ava Seumanufanga and Ricky Leutele their Super League debuts on Friday, with all being named in their squad for Friday night.
Salford are coming into this year off the back of a great 2022. Their brand of free-flowing attacking rugby was fun to watch and if they bring this on this weekend, Leigh could be in serious trouble.
Salford’s injury list was a real concern at the start of the week, but they’ve named a very strong 21-man squad including Kallum Watkins, Tim Lafai and 2022 Man of Steel Brodie Croft. I see them coming away from Leigh Sports village with a good win by 30-16.
Saturday 18th February
Hull KR vs Wigan-1:00pm Kick-off. Channel 4
Last season’s Challenge Cup winners Wigan start their bid for Super League glory as they visit East Yorkshire to take on Hull KR in round one.
The Robins are looking to get their season off with a big scalp against the Cherry and Whites, and with new arrivals Tom Opacic and Sausao Sue looking likely to be involved in the squad, they can be a real threat.
Wigan will be aiming for a win to kick-start their pursuit of St Helens. Bevan French, Jai Field and Kai Pearce-Paul all came out of Sam Powell’s testimonial match against Salford unscathed and look set to be included in the squad. They are crucial for the Warriors and could take the game out of Hull KR’s hands.
My prediction is a comfortable Wigan win by 28-14.
Sunday 19th February
Hull FC vs Castleford Tigers. 3:00pm Kick-off.
Hull FC take on Castleford Tigers in head coach Tony Smith’s first game in charge after leaving city-rivals Hull KR.
The Black and White’s will be looking to build on their 56-0 preseason win over Wakefield Trinity, which featured key players like Sutcliffe, Clifford and Fash. These players could be crucial in the outcome of this game.
Castleford will be aiming for a play-off push again this year, and it is vital for them to start their season off in the best way possible this weekend. The experienced core of the team looks likely to stay together, which could prove vital if Castleford are to leave Hull with a win.
This will be a tight game again, but ultimately I think Hull FC will take the points by 18-12. This is another game that could easily go either way though.