Arguably the most important area on a rugby league pitch is and always has been the halves. If any team is going to be successful, their stand-off and half-back need to be on top of their game – individually and collectively.
As we know, the stand-off is likely to adopt more of a running game and the half-back take control of the team, dictating play with passing and kicking. What makes the perfect halves partnership is a good question and there are certainly some interesting pairings for the 2023 Super League season.
With that in mind, we have taken time to run through all 12 Super League clubs and pick out the top five teams with the strongest halves pairing for 2023.
5. Hull FC – Jake Clifford and Jake Trueman
Although currently out with an ACL injury, Jake Trueman is one of England’s brightest stars. The former Castleford man will be donning Hull’s black and white jersey next year, alongside another new signing in Jake Clifford. These two, alongside new coach Tony Smith, who is known for his off-the-cuff rugby, will be looking to bring the Airlie Birds back to the playoffs for the first time since 2020. Both players do like to run with the ball, and both are still quite young, so it will be interesting to see who takes control in Hull’s game.
4. Wigan Warriors – Cade Cust and Harry Smith
After the retirement of Tommy Leuluai, Wigan now only have Cade Cust and Harry Smith as starting halves so the pressure will be on the pair to deliver more silverware to the Warriors. They know how to get the best out of their side after a successful season last year that ended with a Challenge Cup victory and a Super League semi-final appearance. Cust will be in the final year of his contract so he will be looking to work well with Smith and earn himself a new deal.
3. Leeds Rhinos – Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer
The former Canberra pair both joined Leeds at the start of 2022, and it is fair to say things didn’t start well for the duo. However, since Rohan Smith’s arrival, we have seen a considerable rise in form and cohesion between the two – Austin being the running half and Sezer controlling the game. The pair guided Leeds to a Grand Final that was unthinkable mid-way through the year, and after a full pre-season with Smith at the helm, things look good for Austin and Sezer’s squad.
2. Salford Red Devils – Brodie Croft and Marc Sneyd
The current Man of Steel and England international have worked wonders for the Red Devils, guiding them to a Super League semi-final spot and narrowly losing out to arguably the best Saints side in Super League history. Both Croft and Sneyd were new faces in the Salford camp at the start of the year, but both have shown their quality and their partnership together has been second to none.
1. St Helens – Jonny Lomax and Lewis Dodd
Two players at opposite ends of their careers, Lomax and Dodd guided the Saints to a third consecutive Grand Final win in 2021, and their strong partnership continued into 2022 before Dodd suffered a season-ending injury. If the pair can reignite the partnership they had in 2021, Saints will be even harder to stop and they could go on to win a fifth Grand Final in a row.