New season countdown: A team-by-team guide to the 2021 Super League

The new Betfred Super League season gets under way on Friday when St Helens begin the defence of the title behind closed doors at Headingley against Salford.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 10:09 am
Updated Monday, 22nd March 2021, 10:12 am
Regan Grace. Picture: SWPix

Here, we take a look at the runners and riders for 2021.

CASTLEFORD TIGERS

Coach: Daryl Powell (since May 2013).

Captain: Michael Shenton.

In: Niall Evalds (Salford), Suaia Matagi (Huddersfield, loan), Jordan Turner (Huddersfield), Lewis Bienek (Hull), Gareth O’Brien (Toronto, following loan spell).

Out: Mike McMeeken (Catalans Dragons), Bailey Hodgson (Newcastle Knights), Lewis Carr (Dewsbury), Calum Turner (Newcastle Thunder), Matt Cook (Widnes), Junior Moors, Joe Summers, Jacob Doyle (all Featherstone), Jack Sanderson (Bradford).

The man to look out for: Niall Evalds – the dashing full-back was a prolific and consistent tryscorer for Salford and a change of scenery could lift his career to a new level.

Prospects: Tigers fans will be hoping the team’s alarming collapse in the second half of the disrupted 2020 season was not a sign of things to come. Cas have been regular top-four challengers under Daryl Powell but that may be about to change.

Odds to finish top: 12-1.

Predicted finish: 9th.

CATALANS DRAGONS

Coach: Steve McNamara (since June 2017).

Captain: Ben Garcia.

In: Gil Dudson (Salford), Mike McMeeken (Castleford), Dean Whare (Penrith).

Out: Lucas Albert (Carcassone), Remi Casty (Toulouse), Sam Moa, Antoni Maria (both Lezignan), Mika Simon (Carcassonne), David Mead (Brisbane Broncos), Gavin Marguerite (Villeneuve), Lewis Tierney (Leigh).

The man to look out for: Dean Whare – who can forget the centre’s acrobatics that proved so decisive in New Zealand’s dramatic win over England in the 2013 World Cup semi-final? The Catalans fans could be in for a treat.

Prospects: After overhauling his squad and significantly reducing its average age, coach Steve McNamara may be hard pressed to match last year’s achievement in reaching the semi-finals.

Odds: 14-1.

Predicted finish: 7th.

HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS

Coach: Ian Watson (since November 2020).

Captain: Aiden Sezer.

In: Jack Ashworth (St Helens), James Cunningham, Ricky Leutele (both Toronto), George Roby (Warrington), Jack Cogger (Canterbury Bulldogs), Joe Greenwood (Wigan), Josh Jones (Hull), Luke Yates (Salford), Olly Ashall-Bott (London Broncos).

Out: Suaia Matagi (Castleford, loan), Jordan Turner (Castleford), Dom Young (Newcastle Knights), Reiss Butterworth (Dewsbury), Adam Walne (Barrow), Tom Holmes (Featherstone), Innes Senior (Wakefield, loan), Ukuma Ta’ai (Newcastle Thunder), Aaron Murphy (Bradford), Sam Hewitt (Halifax, on loan).

The man to look out for: Ricky Leutele – the Samoan international centre never really got to strut his stuff in Super League due to Toronto’s all-too-brief stay but he could be set to light up the crowds once they return.

Prospects: Having worked wonders on a shoestring at Salford, new head coach Ian Watson has been backed to the hilt by Huddersfield owner Ken Davy and, alongside his right-hand man Greg Brown, could turn the Giants into title contenders.

Odds: 12-1.

Predicted finish: 4th.

HULL FC

Coach: Brett Hodgson (since November 2020).

Co-captains: Danny Houghton, Scott Taylor and Marc Sneyd.

In: Josh Reynolds (Wests Tigers).

Out: Ratu Naulago (Bristol Bears RU), Lewis Bienek (Castleford), Liam Harris (Halifax), Ryan Johnson (Sheffield Eagles), Kieran Buchanan (Batley), Gareth Ellis (retired), Albert Kelly (Brisbane, on trial), Charlie Patterson-Lund (released), Charlie Graham (Keighley), Josh Jones (Huddersfield).

The man to look out for: Josh Reynolds – a class act on his day, the New South Wales stand-off is looking to kick-start his career following his move to Super League and Hull could be the big beneficiaries.

Prospects: The Black and Whites squad has a familiar look to it but new coach Brett Hodgson can bring back the good times if he can help them find the consistency that has proved so elusive in recent years.

Odds: 12-1.

Predicted finish: 6th.

HULL KR

Coach: Tony Smith (since June 2019).

Captain: Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

In: Albert Vete (Melbourne Storm), Ryan Hall (Sydney Roosters), Korbin Sims (St George Illawarra), Muizz Mustapha (Leeds, loan), Luis Johnson (Warrington), Brad Takairangi (Parramatta).

Out: Jamie Ellis, Matty Gee, Ryan Brierley, Nathaniel Peteru (all Leigh), Mitch Garbutt (Toulouse), Nick Rawsthorne, Dan Murray (both Halifax), Elliot Wallis (loan), Adam Rooks (both Bradford), Will Oakes (Dewsbury), Kyle Trout (released), Weller Hauraki (retired), Rob Mulhern (Warrington).

The man to look out for: Korbin Sims – Rovers fans will be hoping Korbin can make the same impact in Super League older brother Ashton achieved with Warrington. As tough as they come, Sims could prove to be a shrewd acquisition.

Prospects: The bookmakers do not fancy them but, after two years of struggle, the club pushed the boat out in the close season to give coach Tony Smith an injection of class and they look sure of an improved season.

Odds: 66-1.

Predicted finish: 10th.

LEEDS RHINOS

Coach: Richard Agar (since May 2019).

Captain: Luke Gale.

In: Kyle Eastmond (unattached), Bodene Thompson (Toronto, following loan spell), Zane Tetevano (Penrith Panthers), King Vuniyayawa (New Zealand Warriors).

Out: Adam Cuthbertson (York), Rhys Evans (Bradford), Wellington Albert (Keighley), Tyler Dupree (Oldham), Harvey Spence (Featherstone), Muizz Mustapha (Hull KR, loan), Stevie Ward, Dom Crosby (both retired), Ava Seumanufagai (released).

The man to look out for: Kyle Eastmond – the former St Helens favourite is back in Super League after almost a decade in union and will be a man on a mission as he looks to prove, at 31, that he can still crack it.

Prospects: The 2020 Challenge Cup winners will once more be pressing for silverware, with Sean Long hoping to add a new cutting edge to their attack.

Odds: 10-1.

Predicted finish: 3rd.

LEIGH CENTURIONS

Coach: John Duffy (since November 2018).

Captain: Liam Hood.

In: Brendan Elliot (Manly), Tyrone McCarthy (Salford), Jamie Ellis, Matty Gee, Ryan Brierley, Nathaniel Peteru (all Hull KR), Adam Sidlow, Joe Mellor, Matty Russell, Blake Wallace (all Toronto), Ben Flower, Craig Mullen (both Wigan), James Bell (Toulouse), Keanan Brand (Warrington, loan), Lewis Tierney (Catalans Dragons).

Out: Martyn Ridyard, Liam Forsyth, Sam Brooks (all Swinton), Jarrod Sammut (London Broncos), Gregg McNally (Whitehaven), Ben Reynolds (Toulouse), Callum Field (Featherstone), Ryan Ince (Oldham), Brad Holroyd (Workington), Adam Walker, Andy Thornley, Adam Higson, Nick Glohe (all released), Danny Addy (Salford), Ryan Shaw (Barrow).

The man to look out for: Joe Mellor – a bright spark for Widnes, the little stand-off endured an injury-hit time with Toronto but still has plenty to offer Super League.

Prospects: Survival is the name of the game for John Duffy’s men in 2021 following their fast-tracking into the top flight and, despite a major overhaul of his squad, it looks like long, hard road ahead.

Odds: 100-1.

Predicted finish: 12th.

SALFORD RED DEVILS

Coach: Richard Marshall (since December 2020).

Captain: Lee Mossop.

In: Morgan Escare, Jack Wells, Joe Burgess (all Wigan), Sebastine Ikahihifo, Oliver Roberts (both Huddersfield, following loan spells), Sam Luckley (Newcastle Thunder), Matty Costello (St Helens), Dec Patton, Harvey Livett (both Warrington), Danny Addy (Leigh), Elijah Taylor (Wests Tigers), Darcy Lussick (Toronto).

Out: Joey Lussick (Parramatta), Niall Evalds (Castleford), Gil Dudson (Catalans Dragons), Connor Jones, Kris Welham (both Featherstone), Luis Roberts (Swinton), Mark Flanagan (retired), Luke Yates (Huddersfield), Ed Chamberlain (London Broncos, loan), Tyrone McCarthy (Leigh).

The man to look out for: Morgan Escare – the exciting French full-back did not get much of a look-in at Wigan and will be itching to get his career back on track in fresh surroundings.

Prospects: New coach Richard Marshall has a tough act to follow after stepping into the shoes of Ian Watson and it could take some time for his new-look side to bed in.

Odds: 50-1.

Predicted finish: 8th.

ST HELENS

Coach: Kristian Woolf (since September 2019).

Captain: James Roby.

Ins: Joel Thompson (Manly Sea Eagles), Agnatius Paasi (New Zealand Warriors), Sione Mata’utia (Newcastle Knights), Dan Norman (London Broncos).

Out: Joseph Paulo, Dom Peyroux (both Toulouse Olympique), Jack Ashworth (Huddersfield), Callum Hazzard, Cam Brown (both North Wales Crusaders), James Graham (retired), Zeb Taia (Wynnum Manly), Matty Costello (Salford).

The man to look out for: Agnatius Paasi – the man named Iggy comes with a reputation for being an old-fashioned enforcer and Saints will be hoping he can add some mongrel to an already-talented pack.

Prospects: Coach Kristian Woolf has added some real class from the NRL which ought to ensure his side remain serious challengers as they look to complete a hat-trick of Grand Final victories.

Odds: 9-4.

Predicted finish: 1st.

WAKEFIELD TRINITY

Coach: Chris Chester (since March 2016).

Captain: Jacob Miller.

In: Mason Lino (Newcastle Knights), Innes Senior (Huddersfield, loan), Eddie Battye (London Broncos, following loan spell).

Out: Ryan Atkins, Ben Jones-Bishop, Danny Kirmond (all York), Danny Brough (Bradford), Craig Kopczak (Featherstone), Connor Bailey (Newcastle Thunder, loan), Tony Gigot (Avignon), Titus Gwaze (London Broncos).

The man to look out for: Mason Lino – a playmaker with New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights, coach Chris Chester is hoping the Samoan international can solve his half-back problem as he links up with skipper Jacob Miller.

Prospects: Trinity flirted with the wooden spoon in 2020 and they could once more be battling against relegation. The club have bolstered their coaching staff with the addition of Willie Poching and Andy Last but look no stronger on the field.

Odds: 66-1.

Predicted finish: 11th.

WARRINGTON WOLVES

Coach: Steve Price (since October 2017).

Captain: Jack Hughes.

In: Greg Inglis (free agent), Rob Butler (London Broncos), Rob Mulhern (Hull KR).

Out: Ben Murdoch-Masila (New Zealand Warriors), George Roby (Huddersfield), Anthony Gelling (released), Harvey Livett, Declan Patton (both Salford), Luis Johnson (Hull KR), Samy Kibula (Newcastle Thunder, loan), Keanan Brand (Leigh, loan).

The man to look out for: Greg Inglis – without doubt a world-class player on his day, the former Kangaroo centre has not played for nearly two years but should still have enough ability to make an impact in Super League.

Prospects: Coach Steve Price will be determined to bow out on a high and the Wolves are sure to be contenders but that elusive Grand Final triumph could be too much to expect from a squad not significantly any stronger than last season.

Odds: 6-1.

Predicted finish: 5th.

WIGAN WARRIORS

Coach: Adrian Lam (since November 2018).

Captain: to be announced.

In: John Bateman (Canberra Raiders), Jai Field (Parramatta).

Out: George Burgess (released), Morgan Escare, Jack Wells, Joe Burgess (all Salford), Harry Rushton (Canberra Raiders), Craig Mullen, Ben Flower (both Leigh), Jake Shorrocks, Josh Woods (both Newcastle Thunder), Sean O’Loughlin (retired), Joe Greenwood (Huddersfield), Chris Hankinson (London Broncos, loan), Romain Navarette (London Broncos).

The man to look out for: Jai Field – Leeds were thought to be keen on the naturally-gifted outside back who is being tipped to make the same impact on Wigan and Super League as fellow Australian Bevan French.

Prospects: The capture of the exciting Jai Field, coupled with the return of England back-rower John Bateman, gives the Warriors genuine belief they can go one better than 2020. It could be a neck-and-neck race to the title with Saints.

Odds: 9-4.

Predicted finish: 2nd.

Odds to finish top compiled by Betfred.