2020 threw up a number of challenges for every Super League side. With bubble restrictions, continued testing and postponed games, clubs had to go through things they had never gone through before.
But, for some young players, the troubling times handed them an opportunity to get more game time and excel in an otherwise unprecedented period. Here are five that starred in Super League 2020.
2020 was a truly breakthrough year for O’Neill who, despite playing the same amount of games for Castleford as he did in 2019, spent considerably more minutes on the field. With a rugged tenacity and the ferocity to take on those bigger than him – indeed, his spat with Gareth Ellis epitomised his carefree attitude – O’Neill became one of the Tigers’ most impressive stars.
Just 22 years of age, Joe Cator announced himself on the Super League stage last season with a superb campaign. Appearing 13 times for the black-and-whites – including 12 after lockdown – the uncompromising forward looked right at home in the back-row.
Just 19 years of age, Jack Welsby made 18 appearances for St Helens in 2020, playing everywhere along the backline. But, one moment will stick in the mind of Welsby and the whole rugby league fraternity; his try after the hooter had sounded in the Grand Final handed Saints successive title wins.
Halfback Mikey Lewis donned the Hull KR shirt eight times last season, impressing greatly alongside Jordan Abdull. The City of Hull Academy graduate, Lewis looked every part a Super League player especially as Rovers took Wigan to the cleaners in a 34-18 victory. The halfback is definitely one to look out for in 2021.
After making just one appearance for Wigan in 2019, Harry Smith became an important player for the Warriors in 2020. The halfback made 17 appearances as Wigan made it all the way to the Grand Final with the youngster making the semi-final play-off game against Hull. With a great kicking game and a mature head on young shoulders, Smith will go from strength-to-strength in 2021.