Predictions are already coming in thick and fast for the 2022 Super League and Championship seasons as clubs begin their recruitment into the off-season.
For Championship clubs it’s a time of building for a promotion push to the top-flight – something which is elusive for many but attainable for few.
2022, however, is set to be the most competitive second tier yet in the history of the league, with over half a dozen of sides looking for the promised land.
But, just which three should be called dark horses?
Halifax have always been there or thereabouts, but the 2022 Championship could be the year in which the Panthers finally crack the big time. The signings of experienced Super League players Kyle Wood, Joe Arundel and Joe Keyes whilst experienced Championship stars like Louis Jouffret and Cory Aston will play at The Shay too in 2022. Add in to that the fact that head coach Simon Grix has signed a new long-term deal and Liam Finn and Scott Grix have become part of Grix’s coaching staff and Fax have a tremendous combination that could create all sorts of damage in the second tier.
York City Knights
Like Halifax above, York have recruited impressively heading into the new season. Seasoned Super League men such as Jamie Ellis, Masi Matongo and Pauli Pauli have made the move to the LNER Stadium, whilst former Leeds Rhinos veteran Brett Delaney has joined as assistant coach. Head coach James Ford has also signed a new long-term deal to ensure stability at the Knights for a good few years yet, and, backed by an incredible chairman in Jon Flatman, York have the foundations necessary to be a Super League club.
One of just two full-time clubs in the Championship alongside the Leigh Centurions, Newcastle Thunder have been doing everything right in recent years. Building from the bottom up with a very strong community core, Thunder are now reaping the rewards. Chairman Mick Hogan is as passionate as they come whilst they have Super League pedigree in Denis Betts and Eamonn O’Carroll as director of rugby and head coach respectively. Signings like Alex Foster, Josh Eaves and Mitch Clark have also made rivals sit up and take note.