Super League is back, baby.
It’s been a long three months, full of bickering and general bellendry with every Tom, Dick and Harry coming up with their own rugby league master plan. The politics of the game, mainly centred around Robert Elstone, Toronto’s demise and the rise of the Leyther might be ripe, yet the on-field product remains outstanding with last seasons sensational Grand Final between Wigan and St Helens still fresh in the memory.
And we get it, oh boy, do we get it. Rugby League is the best sport in the world, our lads are Gods amongst men, and when you see the latest collapse in the administration of the game, it does wind you up rotten. Elstone’s legacy is Papa John’s pizza and failed private equity deals, but in reality he was just a puppet for the Super League chairman he served. The game deserves so much more.
So, to 2021, the 26th year of Super League, and the latest start to a season since 1998. Things still aren’t ‘normal’ and despite watching via the sofa with a few cold ones we can’t wait to get going. It’s getting warmer and lighter nights are just around the corner, meaning for dry tracks and fast paced action. We’re knackered just watching it at times.
On the field, everything bodes well. Super League clubs have boosted their rosters with more quality imports, with John Bateman, Greg Inglis, Joel Thompson, Josh Reynolds and many more joining, or rejoining, our competition. Over at Hull FC, we are not short on ambition either, with Brett Hodgson coming in as the clubs new head coach. He’s dived into everything head first, with most of the voices being about defence and togetherness. Hull were a basket case at times last season yet were still only one game away from the Grand Final. We’ll be much better organised and prepared side this year, with the top four again the goal.
So, without further ado, we asked some of our writers for their thoughts going into another Super League season. Our thanks as always to Graham Holmes, Jack Salt, Rich Harrison, Sam Shepherd and Trevor Gibbons.
1. What do you expect from Hull FC this year?
Graham – A top six finish and take on the cup would be a good season.
Jack – I’m setting my expectations high. There is a new look to the club, a new aura, and I think Brett Hodgson has built a squad that can really challenge for things this year. Top four and a good cup run.
Rich – A cup win, and to be competitive in every game.
Sam – The squad is good enough to be in the top four and be pushing for one of the finals, preferably the Grand Final. People have said we have only signed Josh Reynolds and not replaced other players, but the big difference for me is the new philosophy in the coaching department that I am confident will get the best from this squad.
Trevor – Consistency first and foremost. A top four spot would be nice.
2. What are your thoughts on Brett Hodgson’s appointment?
Graham – We needed a change of culture as we had become stale and Last was an extension of Radford. Hodgson has been saying the right things especially about defensive improvements. Also Aussie assistants generally do well over here and go back as head coaches.
Jack – Really confident with his appointment. He has the experience of playing at this level, and I’m sure that will be a good stepping stone for his coaching career in Super League.
Rich – It’s brave as he’s untested, but he’s a class act and will do well. I can’t wait to see his recruitment next year when we’ll have some turn over in players.
Sam – We needed a complete overhaul in coaching philosophy and we have got that. Hodgson is inexperienced but other clubs in Super League have had success with Australian assistants before so why not be optimistic?
Trevor – I’ve noticed that the players speak highly of him so it’s a good start.
3. Who is the one Hull FC player to look out for?
Graham – Josh Reynolds.
Jack – Joe Cator. He is such a versatile character and he will be pivotal to the squad this year. He’s one of the most exciting talents in Super League right now.
Rich – Chris Satae will have a big year.
Sam – Jake Connor. I absolutely cannot wait to see the Snake resume at full back. He was excellent at the back end of last season and his link up with Josh Reynolds should be mouth watering.
Trevor – Joe Cator. Can he continue to surprise people? I hope so.
4. Who will win Super League this year?
Graham – Wigan.
Jack – I can’t see past Wigan or Saints. They just take it up a notch, especially in big games.
Rich – If Jackson Hastings leaves Wigan, then Saints all the way.
Sam – I would have said Wigan but a few things seem to be going on off the pitch over there and Jackson Hastings clearly wants to leave so I am going for Saints to make it three titles in a row. Hull FC and Huddersfield to make up the top four.
Trevor – Wigan.
5. What do you make of Leigh’s promotion to Super League?
Graham – No matter who they selected it would have been wrong. Thought they may have gone for London as the last team relegated.
Jack – I don’t think it’s too bad an option. Leigh are a good club with a good ground, with great facilities in and around it, so logically it makes sense.
Pommy Rich – Nice to see a traditional club come up, but they’ll finish bottom.
Sam – It was the safe option. They have an owner who will spend money, they have a decent stadium and they have been in Super League before. Personally I would have liked to see Toulouse given a shot, the French rivalry with Catalans would have been interesting.
Trevor – The safest and most unimaginative choice, hard year ahead for the Leythers.
6. What are you looking forward to most when fans return to games?
Graham – The atmosphere, buying my fanzine, having all my family with me, and of course moaning about the referee.
Jack – I’m looking forward to having that gameday feeling back. I’ve missed the buzz when you know you’re going to rugby after work or on a weekend.
Sam – The whole matchday experience. The pre-match pint, the first rendition of Old Faithful and just being there with friends and family every week. It’s been far too long
Trevor – Being part of something and not taking it for granted again.
As always Up the Cream, Gerrromonsard, and Come on you ‘Ull.