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SLTV Predictions

13th of January 2014
SLTV Predictions

SLTV look ahead to the 2014 Super League and give their opinions on the runners and riders...

So the new season is upon us and the bulk of the hard work in pre-season has been done. Increasingly it becomes more and more about the rugby.


The dark days of bleep tests, hill running and VO2 max testing have been quickly replaced with friendly fixtures and the need for game time.


So with the player’s thoughts very much on how Super League 19 will play out, it's only right that Super League TV offer their very, very qualified opinion on how they think things will unravel.


Let us begin by taking a look at the Super League Champions and double winners - Wigan. It will be very interesting to see how they cope without Sam Tomkins and several other big name players who departed the club during the off season, but we've been here before of course.


Thomas Leuluai, Brett Finch and George Carmont left at the end of 2012 and they didn't quite endure the torrid time many predicted last season.


We can't wait to see how Shaun Wane and his coaching team get this team, with an average age of 24.2 firing.


We're particularly looking forward to seeing how John Bateman, one of the most talented young forwards in the game, and Dan Sarginson go. Wane's utter belief in the Wigan way always seems to rub off and we see no reason why this ruthless Warriors side cannot hang on to their Super League crown.


Is double double beyond the Warriors this year?


Our trip to meet St Helens' class of 2014 last week has led us to think they will certainly challenge alongside Wigan this year.


Perhaps you're a little fed up of reading people tipping Saints to go well, but a good look at their new players and the freedom they are likely to afford certain individuals who were previously over-relied upon, could be the final piece in the jig-saw.


So the fact Nathan Brown has recruited in areas they were lacking, coupled with many of the Saints youngsters - Luke Thompson, Adam Swift and Mark Percival - being a year older and wiser from their experience seems to bode well.


Huddersfield are a difficult one to gauge. Can they repeat the successes of last year? We think the Giants are a team who provide more questions than answers.


Chris Bailey is a handy player, Antonio Kafusi will certainly add to the pack and Jodie Broughton is a neat acquisition - so write them off at your peril!


Warrington have lost some big names but have spent the past two season patiently developing the likes of Richie Myler and Stefan Ratchford, who this year will be expected to lead from the front. No longer do they have the luxury of being able to throw the legendary Lee Briers in to the fray when things get tough!


It will also be interesting to see how Matty Russell goes after his outstanding World Cup campaign with Scotland. He looked some player! Wigan must be kicking themselves as he would have been an ideal replacement for Tomkins.


Leeds have signed a long overdue out-and-out hooker, Paul Aiton, who will give them the direction on the field that they lacked at times last season.


One concern for this much-decorated Rhinos side is their props. Another season in to Jamie Peacock's long, illustrious career, can he produce yet another superhuman effort?


Despite an injury-hit season in 2013, they got to within 80 minutes of another Grand Final and we can see them winning through to Old Trafford again come October - though it will take some careful management from coach Brian McDermott.


It's all change at Hull FC and success in Lee Radford's debut season will hinge on how quickly the new half-back pairing of Jacob Miller and Jordan Rankin gels together.


Tom Lineham and Ben Crooks will be looking to continue their try-scoring feats of 2013 - they scored 33 tries between them.


Radford is a hard taskmaster and will have the Black and Whites well drilled but we feel they'll be found a little bit wanting in the forward pack, as was exposed as their season came crashing down in their play-off defeat to Huddersfield.


One thing is for sure, isn't it great to see Feka Paleas'aesina back in Super League? He looks in good shape by all accounts and rugby league is never dull with him around.


Salford are going to be an interesting experiment and failure to make the top eight would certainly be a let-down given all the investment and hype.


Much of their season will depend on the relationship between Tim Smith and Rangi Chase, who for their previous clubs were the go-to men for special plays. Working together could prove problematic.


It will also be interesting to see how much of an impact their three weeks in South Africa has when it comes to moulding individuals in to a team.


Catalan are asking a lot of Jeff Lima to replace Remi Casty - arguably the greatest player in the club's history.


They have made a few NRL signings and we're excited to see the continued development of Morgan Escare, who could feasibly go as far as he wants to within the game.


Home performances will be key for the French club and indeed every club as Super League becomes increasingly difficult to predict.


And of course there are six other teams vying to upset the apple cart. If Widnes can continue their progress with a fairly stable squad they’re sure to be pushing for the play offs.


Hull KR’s impressive recruitment in the pack will have many opponents worried, they’re success could hinge on how quickly Michael Dobson’s replacement, Kris Keating, settles in at the club.


2014 looks to be a season which will excite and intrigue, with some big changes in clubs throughout the league the only real way to find out how these teams will go is after the blow of the whistle at kick off and we at SLTV can’t wait, roll on February 7th.


 


SLTV PREDICTIONS 2014


 


TOP EIGHT


1 Wigan Warriors


2 St Helens


3 Huddersfield Giants


4 Warrington Wolves


5 Leeds Rhinos


6 Hull FC


7 Salford Red Devils


8 Catalan Dragons

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