Only one team were able to beat 1895 Cup winners Featherstone last season and the Rovers pushed that team, Toulouse, all the way for promotion. Ultimately, Featherstone lost out to the French outfit in the Million Pound Game but it’s safe to say that they were a cut above the rest alongside Toulouse last term leading many to believe they are dead set favourites for promotion next term.
But, the recruitment of other teams over the last few weeks means the race for promotion could be much more open in 2022 than we’ve seen for years. So, today we’re looking at the four favourites to push for promotion next year.
Let’s start with the Rovers themselves. The departure of Fa’amanu Brown will have hurt them but when you have Super League’s most successful coach at the helm and an already exciting squad, it’s hard to bet against them. Brian McDermott, having led Leeds to four Super League titles, has Championship pedigree from his Toronto days where he took the Wolfpack all the way to Super League at the expense of Featherstone in 2019. He’ll give Fev the same winning mentality and a tactical edge which he used to guide Leeds to eight major honours, and that could see the Flat Cappers secure promotion to Super League for the first time. McDermott’s arrival mixed with the signing of NRL Grand Finalist Joey Leilua gives the Rovers top class talent both behind the scenes and on the field.
Of course, the relegated Centurions will also be considered one of the favourites for promotion as is often the case when a side drops down a division. Having just played in Super League last year, they’re still in a strong position and have tied down the likes of Joe Mellor and have brought in plenty of Super League quality players thanks to former Wakefield boss Chris Chester who will work alongside 2020 Super League Coach of the Year Adrian Lam in building a squad to secure promotion back to Super League. They’ve also brought in Tom Amone who has NRL experience and will give Leigh definite quality next year as will on loan 2019 Super League winner Aaron Smith. They’ll take some beating in 2022.
Once upon a time, the Blue Sox were an ever-present in Super League even finishing third in 1998. That all unravelled in 2003 and they’ve not been back since but 2022 is perhaps their best chance of returning for 20 years. They’ve brought in some brilliant signings including former Huddersfield and Wakefield hooker Kyle Wood and exciting halfback Louis Jouffret. If Simon Grix can blend these new signings with the existing talent at the Shay, they should become a real contender at the top of the Championship.
Going into 2021, plenty of hype surrounded the City Knights after they made some major signings such as the arrival of former Man of Steel nominee Adam Cuthbertson but, for one reason or another, York flattered to deceive last year. However, as those signings settle after a year with the club and with exciting arrivals like Pauli Pauli going into 2022, they should again have an excellent squad. But, like Featherstone, the man in charge is perhaps their strongest asset. James Ford is regarded as one of the best young coaches in the country and has overseen a transformation at York recently. He could very well turn them into a Super League side sooner or later and could be considered dark horses for promotion next year.