Article written

  • on 03.02.2012
  • at 11:10 AM
  • by KT

Super League 2012 Preview

Rugby League fans up and down the M62 corridor will be glad the long wait is finally over now that Super League is back for the 2012 season.

This weekend will see the start of an exciting 9-month long campaign, culminating once again with the Grand Final at the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford in October.

The 2011 season domestic rugby league season ended with a Leeds side, having already dumped out Warrington, come from behind to beat St Helens in Manchester for the fourth time in just five years.

What’s even more impressive is that Brian McDermott’s side did it having finished outside the top four in the regular Super League season. Leeds Rhinos are 7/2 to repeat their Grand Final triumph again and are the same price to win the regular season.

It’s all change in Super League for 2012, with Crusaders dropping out and Salford stepping in to complete the 14-team lineup. Not only that but we will also have two new stadiums on show this year; Salford City Reds new home at Barton Bridge and St Helens finally moving in to Langtree Park.

Not only that but Widnes Vikings will play their home games on a state-of-the-art artificial surface at the Stobart Stadium; a first for Super League. Whilst its difficult to predict how this will go down, the Vikings are not at all fancied and find themselves 250/1 outsiders.

After much discussion, Magic Weekend will stay for 2012 – although it will be held at the Etihad Stadium in May for the first time – the home of Manchester City.

Here we take a look at each of the 14 teams in turn and preview the Super League betting courtesy of Unibet, who are offering a fantastic £20 risk free bet for the new season.

BRADFORD BULLS

Regular Season Winner: 75/1
Grand Final Winner:
40/1
Last year:
10th
Coach:
Mick Potter

The Bulls will still play their games at Odsal, despite the grtound now being owned by the RFL, but it seems their title winning days are gone, for the time being at least. Mick Potter’s men will be looking to secure a top half finish, with a play-off place being a target rather than a certainty.

It will be interesting to see how the return of Karl Pryce impacts on Bradfords fortunes. While he is blessed with talent, his inconsistency has often caused frustration amongst the fans of his previous clubs.

CASTLEFORD TIGERS

Regular Season Winner: 85/1
Grand Final Winner:
60/1
Last year:
9th
Coach:
Ian Millward

The Tigers started the 2011 season well but ran out of steam in the second half of the season, missing out on a top eight finish. New coach Ian Millward will be looking to take the team a step further this time and will have his eyes on a play-off place. And if Rangi Chase can replicate last season’s form and they avoid any major injuries, then there’s every chance of that. They will also welcome back Craig Huby after a broken leg and will be looking for him to cary on where he left off.

CATALAN DRAGONS

Regular Season Winner: 20/1
Grand Final Winner:
20/1
Last year:
6th
Coach:
Trent Robinson

This could be a great year for Catalan Dragons should things go their way, but they will have to contend with injuries, even at this early stage. They are well worthy of a top 4 or 5 place at least and if Leon Pryce can stay fit after a tough couple of years who knows just how far they can go.

HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS

Regular Season Winner: 25/1
Grand Final Winner:
14/1
Last year:
4th
Coach:
Nathan Brown

We fancy Huddesrsfield to be in the mix this year, but will need to erase the memories of the past 2 seasons, after fading drastically on both occasions. Whilst competeing with the ‘big boys’ of Super League will be tough, they should secure a place in the play-offs without too much trouble.

If the Giants are to do well they will need Danny Brough to be at his best, and if he does he should find himself back in the England setup.

HULL FC

Regular Season Winner: 25/1
Grand Final Winner:
14/1
Last year:
8th
Coach:
Peter Gentle

Who knows where Hull FC will finish up this season. Gentle comes with a good reputation and the side have made some decent signings in Wade McKinnon and Brett Seymour, but they will need to settle in quickly if they are to finish top 5 or 6.

Andy Lynch and Eamonn O’Carroll have comer on board, but it’s worth noting they have also lost influential players like Radford, Fitzgibbon and Long.

Srum-half Jamie Ellis could be great for Hull this season, having impressed in the youth setup at St Helens in the early part of his career. After a spell at Leigh, Ellis now finds himself with a chance to prove himself in Super League.

HULL KR

Regular Season Winner: 60/1
Grand Final Winner:
40/1
Last year:
7th
Coach:
Craig Sandercock

We fancy Hull KR to struggle this year but if Sandercook gets the best out of his players then a top eight finish could be a possibility. Bear in mind they have lost Shaun Briscoe, Clint Newton & Mick Vella; players who added character to the Rovers’ team. If they do make the top eight, which they would have to do without Blake Green, then you’d have to say “top achievement”.

LEEDS RHINOS

Regular Season Winner: 7/2
Grand Final Winner:
7/2
Last year:
5th (Grand Final winners)
Coach:
Brian McDermott

Last season was an incredible season for the Rhinos – finishing 5th then going on to win the Grand Final. They have lost Danny Buderus but other than the the squad is relatively intact. They have brought in a couple of additions to add depth so they should be even stronger if anything, hence why they are just 7/2.

Kallum Watkins is a fantastic young player; terrific talent & great personality to match – fingers crossed he can go the season injury-free this time around.

LONDON BRONCOS

Regular Season Winner: 85/1
Grand Final Winner:
100/1
Last year:
12th
Coach:
Rob Powell

They have made some great overseas signings in the close season and this may be the strongest Broncos side for many years. This London squad is good enough to make the play-offs should everything go their way, and who knows – maybe a nice Challenge Cup round could be on the cards too.

Dual-code international Craig Gower returns to Super League after having not played top-class rugby for three years. If he can find some of his old form, he could be one of the best signings in Super League this year.

ST HELENS

Regular Season Winner: 5/2
Grand Final Winner:
5/2
Last year:
3rd (Grand Final runners-up)
Coach:
Royce Simmons

They played last season at Widnes and to reach the Grand Final, given that plus a series of major injuries, was a great achievement. They will start the new season at a new stadium and who knows how long it will take them to settle in. 

They have lost James Graham to Australia, but their recruitment is all of high quality. Mark Flanagan, Lance Hohaia and Anthony Laffranchi are all top pedigree players who will have an influence. We fancy them to make the Grand Final again and possibly go on to win it this time around.

SALFORD CITY REDS

Regular Season Winner: 100/1
Grand Final Winner:
85/1
Last year:
12th
Coach:
Phil Veivers

Salford also have a new stadium and will try and raise the profile of Rugby League in Manchester.

They have not had the best preparation, with Matt Parrish departing under very strange circumstances. Their recruitment hasn’t been the best in our opinion either, especially given the loss of Stefan Ratchford. But there are still some good players and they will be one of a number of sides fighting for a top 8 finish.

WAKEFIELD TRINITY WILDCATS

Regular Season Winner: 100/1
Grand Final Winner:
150/1
Last year:
13th
Coach:
Richard Agar

Crusaders’ loss is Wakefield’s gain and it’s almost like having a new team playing out of Belle Vue this year – 17 players in, 20-plus out, and new coach in Richard Agar.

The Wakefield fans know very little about their players either so it will be a steep learning curve for pundits and fans alike. There is a solid-looking quality to the Wakefield squad that should mean they have a good chance of making the play-offs, so long as they all get used to each other in time.

WARRINGTON WOLVES

Regular Season Winner: 11/4
Grand Final Winner:
9/4
Last year:
1st (Play-off semi-finalists)
Coach:
Tony Smith

Tommy Smith has made very few changes since the season-end so they should be up there again this time around. They have lost Matt King, but they have some string young talent coming thriough so they should be able to cope. Trent Waterhouse and Stefan Ratchford have come in and they should add more depth to the squad.

The Wolves will be keen to excorcise last year’s demons of finishing first in the regular season but failing to make the Grand Final. A play-off place is a near certainty and they will have a Grand Final place in their sights this time around.

Michael Monaghan will be 32 by the end of the season and rugby fans should embrace the skills he has as he won’t be around forever! 

WIDNES VIKINGS

Regular Season Winner: 150/1
Grand Final Winner:
250/1
Last year:
Championship (5th)
Coach:
Denis Betts

It’ll be a struggle for the Vikings, no doubt about it. But this year is all about finding their feet in Super League. We fancy them to finish rock-bottom, but if they can claim a few scalps along the way it won’t be deemed too much of a disappointment. Denis Betts will know that despite the club’s glorious history, this year is all about managing expectations.

The new Widnes pitch will raise a few eyebrows amongst the older Rugby League fans. The artificial surface is the very latest technological innovation and experts reckon that matches on the pitch will be faster than on any other surface. Expect bigger collisions, more tackles and potentially (though hopefully not) more injuries.

WIGAN WARRIORS

Regular Season Winner: 5/2
Grand Final Winner:
2/1
Last year:
2nd (Play-off semi-finalists)
Coach:
Shaun Wane

They missed out on the Grand Final last year after finishing 2nd, and they makes them potentially dangerous!

New coach Shaun Wane will be keen to bring back silverwear to the DW trophy cabinet and with Sam Tomkins pledging his immediate future to the club means there is every possibility of that.

There’s every chance the Warriors could achieve great things this season – though we fancy them to go on a big cup run, but struggle to compete with Warrington, Leeds and St Helens in the league.

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