In part two of our 2020 Super League preview we examine Salford, St. Helens, Toronto, Wakefield, Warrington and Wigan.


Salford Red Devils

2019 finish: 3rd

Ground: AJ Bell Stadium

Coach: Ian Watson

Captain(s): Lee Mossop and Mark Flanagan

Salford Red Devils captain Lee Mossop

After one of the most surprising seasons in recent history Ian Watson’s men defied the odds to finish 3rd and make their way to their first ever Super League Grand Final.

However, as a new season dawns, the Red Devils see plenty of big departures with the inspirational Jackson Hastings, Josh Jones, George Griffin, Darell Olpherts and Robert Lui all making an exit.

This year may just be a transitional year for Watson’s men, meaning both Joey Lussick and Niall Evalds will be pivotal as the season goes on.

They have been able to fill some voids though, adding Kevin Brown, James Greenwood, Dan Sarginson and Sebastine Ikahihifo in the hope of following on from a sensational 2019.

Salford Red Devils utility back Tuimoala Lolohea

Player to watch

Even though it did not work out for him at Leeds, Tuimoala Lolohea has seemingly found a new lease of life with Salford.

If his performances for Tonga towards the end of the year are anything to go by, then it will be interesting to see where this side goes from here with the halfback in tow.

Prediction: 9th


St. Helens

2019 season finish: 1st  (Champions)

Ground: Totally Wicked Stadium

Coach: Kristian Woolf

Captain: James Roby

St Helens hooker James Roby

Unlike other teams around them, the 2019 Super League Champions have decided against adding any extra talent to the side that dominated most of last year.

Well, they do say why mess with a winning formula and again the Saints still look an unfathomable unit with James Roby leading the way once again.

It is possible to think though that the Red Vee will not always have it their own way this year especially with how other teams have added over the off season.

Though when you have Lachlan Coote, Regan Grace, Kevin Naiqama, Tommy Makinson and Jonny Lomax in the backline and a front row consisting of Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley, then you will still be brave to bet against them.

St Helens prop Luke Thompson

Player to watch

In a team that has its fair share of impact players, Jonny Lomax has been one of the most consistent performers over the last couple of years.

His versatility and ability to unlock an opponent’s defence saw him claim 16 tries and 21 try assists last year. Man of Steel 2020 anyone?

Prediction: 2nd

St Helens utility back Jonny Lomax

Toronto Wolfpack

2019 season finish: N/A (recently promoted from Championship)

Ground: Lampert Stadium

Coach: Brian McDermott

Captain: Josh McCrone

Toronto Wolfpack captain Josh McCrone

The first ever transatlantic rugby league team make their highly anticipated debut in Super League this year.

In the process, they bring with them one of the biggest acquisitions in the sport’s history, if not the biggest in Sonny Bill Williams.

The 34-year-old will make his return to rugby league for the first time since 2014 and will provide a huge boost in the back row.

Alongside SBW, Toronto have the coaching of McDermott and Super League experience of Joe Mellor, Gareth O’Brian, Matty Russell and Jon Wilkin.

Together, that should seemingly be enough to steer them to safety with a play-off spot maybe too much too soon for the North American side.

Newly signed Toronto Wolfpack back-rower Sonny Bill Williams

Player to watch

Even though all eyes will be on SBW, the key man for McDermott’s side may just be the talented Andy Ackers at dummy half.

The 26-year-old has spent time with Swinton and London before joining Toronto in 2018 and has developed a reputation as one of the best hookers in the country outside of Super League.

Prediction: 10th


Wakefield Trinity Wildcats

2019 season finish: 9th

Ground: Belle Vue (Mobile Rocket Stadium)

Coach: Chris Chester

Captain: Jacob Miller

Wakefield captain Jacob Miller

The West Yorkshire side should be quietly confident they can challenge some of the leading contenders ahead of them this season.

They face a fight in the middle table with the likes of Leeds, Castleford and Catalan looks to be much likelier.

The Wildcats have brought in Joe Westerman, Chris Green and Jay Pitts to bolster the forwards.

They still have influential players in Bill Tupou, Reece Lyne and Danny Brough to create opportunities going forward.

Wakefield player Reece Lyne

Also, the additions of the young and exceptionally talented Alex Walker and veteran Ryan Atkins certainly bolster the backline.

Player to watch

There is no question that Tom Johnstone is the one to watch for Wakefield this year.

Over the last two years he has had his career curtailed after a pair of serious injuries saw him miss a substantial amount of time.

Wakefield utility back Tom Johnstone

However, if he stays healthy, he remains one of the most exciting talents out there with his electric speed and finishing ability.

Prediction: 8th


Warrington Wolves

2019 season finish: 4th

Ground: Halliwell Jones Stadium

Coach: Steve Price

Captain(s): Chris Hill and Jack Hughes

Warrington Wolves captain Chris Hill

In the duo of Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop. the Wire have two of the most lethal halves in the league to get them in to the top two this year.

The departure of Ryan Atkins and Bryson Goodwin have left a gap in the centres.

The trio of Toby King, Jake Mamo and Keenan Brand alongside new signing Anthony Gelling show there are plenty of options for Steve Price there.

Even out wide, they have two exceptional try scorers in Josh Charnley and Tom Lineham.

Warrington Wolves utility back Tom Lineham

There are huge presences in the forward pack with Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Joe Philbin, Ben Currie, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Sitaleki Akauola.

Not to mention catalyst Daryl Clark flying around at dummy half.

All the ingredients are there, it is up to the Wolves now as to whether they can finally put the pieces together and finally achieve the big one.

Warrington Wolves player Josh Charnley

Player to watch

We already know what the likes of Austin, Widdop and Charnley so for Warrington, I decided to look at more youthful prospect and that is Matty Ashton.

The 21-year-old arrived from Swinton Lions recently and comes into Super League as the second tier’s top try scorer and Young Player of the Year in 2019.

Prediction: 3rd


Wigan Warriors

2019 season finish: 2nd

Ground: DW Stadium

Coach: Adrian Lam

Captain: Sean O’Loughlin

Wigan Warriors captain Sean O’Loughlin

Alongside Hull FC, Wigan have probably made some of the best signings over the course of the post season.

2019 Man of Steel winner Jackson Hastings has joining the fray to go with the inclusions of George Burgess, Mitch Clark and Jake Bibby.

The Warriors have a team filled with a great blend of youth and experience and that was certainly evident last year.

Youngsters Morgan Smithies and Oliver Partington gained valuable first team minutes and showed why they are potential stars in the making.

Wigan Warriors youngster Morgan Smithies

If you combine all this with the leadership of Sean O’Loughlin, Liam Farrell and Thomas Leuluai and the skill and talent of Zak Hardaker, Oliver Gildart, Bevan French and Joe Burgess, then Wigan have it all to go better than 2nd this year.

Player to watch

Although you can point to either Smithies or Partington or the fact that Gildart is set to miss the start of the season due to injury, the stage is set for Bevan French.

He has a chance to announce himself in his first full year with the Warriors.

Wigan Warriors fullback Bevan French

The 24-year-old certainly has all the skills and creativity to be one Adrian Lam’s best attacking weapons this coming season.

Prediction: 1st


 

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