It’s that time of the year again when predictions are made for the rugby league season ahead.
The new Super League season will begin in February 2022 with a number of times in a rebuilding stage following coaching departures such as Castleford Tigers, Warrington Wolves and Salford Red Devils.
A whole host of new signings have been brought in both from the UK and abroad as the 12 top-flight sides try to go one better in 2022.
But, just who are the three dark horses for 2022?
I chose the Castleford Tigers last season, but they ended up finishing outside the top six play-offs. However, there seems to be a new, confident air about the West Yorkshire club heading into the 2022 Super League season. Former Hull FC head coach Lee Radford has taken the reins after eight-and-a-half years of Daryl Powell at the Jungle and he has already made his mark on the squad by bringing in eight new signings including livewire outside back Jake Mamo and enigmatic second-rower Kenny Edwards. Above all, though, Radford brings a trophy-winning pedigree, having guided Hull to back-to-back Challenge Cup successes and the Castleford faithful appear to have bought into the new era in their droves.
Perhaps no one believes that Wakefield Trinity won’t be anywhere near the top six play-offs in 2022. But, look at what Willie Poching achieved towards the back end of the 2021 Super League season. Five wins from their last seven games meant that Trinity ended the season as one of the most in-form sides in the competition. And, with star halfback Jacob Miller now confirmed to be staying at Belle Vue alongside new signings Lee Gaskell and Tom Lineham, 2022 looks a whole lot rosier for the West Yorkshire side. Add into that a fit Tom Johnstone and Bill Tupou and Wakefield could cause a lot of damage.
Wigan Warriors have been written off before even a ball has been kicked. With Adrian Lam facing the chop at the end of 2021, the Warriors have promoted former assistant Matty Peet to head coach, with Sean O’Loughlin and Lee Briers as his two right-hand men and Shaun Wane in a leadership role. It’s a quartet that could propel Wigan back to top-of-the-table form – if it goes right. New signing Cade Cust from the NRL has turned heads as Manly Sea Eagles can’t believe their club has let him go, whilst Abbas Miski, Patrick Mago and Kaide Ellis will provide endless enthusiasm. Plus, all those Wigan youngsters who got game time in 2021 will now be much more battle hardened.