Super League 2020 countdown - Wolfpack show their teeth but can anyone stop the Saints?

Sonny Bill Williams faces the press. Picture: SWpix
Sonny Bill Williams faces the press. Picture: SWpix

Super League broadens its horizons as it prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2020 with the arrival of Toronto Wolfpack.

Most eyes will be on big-name recruit Sonny Bill Williams as the Canadian club finally get the chance to put their mark on the top flight of the English game, but it could at best be a year of consolidation for Brian McDermott's men.

A fully-fit first 17 will be a match for most of their rivals but Toronto are set to the start the season with just 21 players and, once injuries start taking their toll, it could be a struggle to stay away from the bottom four.

The Wolfpack are unlikely to be relegated but a mid-table finish would be a realistic target.

Aside from the new boys, it would be a surprise if the season did not pan out in a similar fashion to that of 2019, with St Helens, Wigan and Warrington jostling for the top three spots.

Wigan and Warrington have made some shrewd additions and Saints did not need to, so that leaves the rest of the pack chasing the other semi-final place, which looks wide open.

Catalan Dragons so often flatter to deceive but this could be their year, with James Maloney adding his vast experience to the back line and the Tomkins brothers united once more.

Much is expected of Hull following their extensive recruitment while Leeds ought to be one of the big improvers, but Castleford and Wakefield could be treading water and it would be no surprise to see Salford slip back after their brilliant overachievement in 2019.

That leaves Huddersfield, despite the notable addition of Aidan Sezer, and Hull KR to battle it out at the bottom and Rovers look totally out of luck, with a crop of injuries disrupting their campaign before it even gets under way.

As ever, there are new rules for fans to watch out for in 2020 after proposals from the game's laws committee were ratified by the Rugby Football League's board.

The shot clock, introduced in 2019 to stop time-wasting, is being sped up further so teams will now have only 30 seconds to restart the match at a scrum and 25 seconds for a drop-out under their own posts.

Golden point - six matches were decided by extra time in 2019 - will again be used in Super League and will be extended to the Championship and League 1 in 2020, but with a twist.

Each team will take one point from a match that is level at full-time and an additional point will be available to the first team to score in two five-minute periods of extra time. The scoring system remains unchanged in Super League.

In an attempt to clean up the ruck, tackled players are being urged to make a genuine attempt to make contact on the ball with the foot but any indiscretions will result in a scrum rather than a penalty, although penalties will still be awarded to defenders who interfere in the play-the-ball.

Officials have also announced that punches to the head will result in an automatic sin-binning.

A minor change to the squad declarations means that clubs will be required to name a 21-man squad instead of 19 at noon two days before each fixture and if any players are brought in from outside, they will lose one of their eight interchanges.