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09 Feb 2017 by TSZ

Super League Previews - Week One

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Wakefield Trinity vs Hull FC

The Lowdown

WAKEFIELD TRINITY

  • Head coach Chris Chester takes charge of his first full season at the club and he will be looking to improve further after their eighth-placed finish in 2016.
  • New signings Scott Grix, Craig Huby, Sam Williams and Kyle Wood are all set to make their Wakefield debuts in what is a much-changed squad from last season.
  • Fellow newcomers Mitch Allgood and Keegan Hirst are both unavailable for this opening match with head and ankle injuries respectively but otherwise they are at full strength.

Head Coach: Chris Chester

Squad: Chris Annakin, Tinirau Arona, Matty Ashurst, Jordan Crowther, Anthony England, David Fifita, Liam Finn, Scott Grix, Craig Huby, Ben Jones-Bishop, Tom Johnstone, Danny Kirmond, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Mikey Sio, Bill Tupou, Anthony Walker, Sam Williams, Kyle Wood

Unavailable: Mitch Allgood (Head), Keegan Hirst (Ankle)

HULL FC

  • Last season's Challenge Cup winners Hull FC come into the new season with plenty of optimism and will be aiming to do better in the Super League this year.
  • Barring a couple of injuries to Bowden and Hadley, coach Lee Radford has a strong squad at his disposal and will be desperate to get an opening win against a side they have beaten in their last 4 meetings.
  • Veteran leader Gareth Ellis is back in the squad after missing pre-season and the end of last season but Radford will likely manage his playing time carefully.

Head Coach: Lee Radford

Squad: Jamie Shaul, Mahe Fonua, Carlos Tuimavave, Josh Griffin, Fetuli Talanoa, Albert Kelly, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Liam Watts, Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello, Gareth Ellis, Jake Connor, Chris Green, Jordan Thompson, Danny Washbrook, Steve Michaels, Jansin Turgut

Unavailable: Josh Bowden (Ankle), Dean Hadley (Hip)


Analysis - what to expect
Hull FC will be supremely confident coming into this opening match against Wakefield. Their squad has been strengthened with some new signings, and the likes of Gareth Ellis are fit again. Combined with their dominant record against Wakefield against whom they have won their last 4 meetings, everything points towards a comfortable away win in this opener.

CATALANS DRAGONS VS WARRINGTON WOLVES

The Lowdown

CATALANS DRAGONS

  • The Catalans Dragons will look to make further improvement this season and consolidate their position in the top 8 as they aim to make their home a fortress.
  • The Catalans have high hopes for their new halfback partnership of Luke Walsh and Richie Myler and they have a handful of new signings set to make their debuts.
  • The Dragons star full-back Tony Gigot has been banned by the French Federation for inappropriate behaviour towards an anti-doping officer so he misses out.

Head Coach: Laurent Frayssinous

Squad: Paul Aiton, Jason Baitieri, Greg Bird, Thomas Bosc, Julian Bousquet, Jodie Broughton, Luke Burgess, Remi Casty, Vincent Duport, Ben Garcia, Justin Horo, Krisnan Inu, Sam Moa, Richie Myler, Mickael Simon, Luke Walsh, Brayden Wiliame, Fouad Yaha

Unavailable: Tony Gigot (Suspended), Iain Thornley (Ineligible), Louis Anderson (Unknown)

WARRINGTON WOLVES

  • Tony Smith's men are determined to shake off their nearly-men status and go all the way this season which is a realistic target given the quality in the squad.
  • The loss of star man Chris Sandow was seen as a major blow to the club, but they have found an outstanding replacement in former Widnes captain Kevin Brown.
  • They are however without a whole host of players for this trip to France including Kevin Brown so that may hamper their performances early in the season.

Head Coach: Tony Smith

Squad: Ryan Atkins, Matty Blythe, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Dominic Crosby, Brad Dwyer, Rhys Evans, Kurt Gidley, Jack Hughes, Toby King, Tom Lineham, Harvey Livett, Dec Patton, Joe Philbin, Matty Russell, Andre Savelio, Ashton Sims, Joe Westerman, Sam Wilde

Unavailable: Kevin Brown (Hamstring), Stefan Ratchford (Knee), Ben Currie (Knee), Chris Hill (Hernia/Shoulder), Ben Westwood (Pectoral/Shoulder), George King (Mumps)


Analysis - what to expect
The Dragons are never easy opponents in France and Warrington's task is made all the harder by the fact that they have a spate of injuries coming into this game. Preparation for the Dragons have been hit by the late suspension to star full-back Tony Gigot and with the turnover in their squad, it may take them some time to settle. The Wolves will fancy their chances here but expect a close game with the visitors slightly preferred.

SALFORD RED DEVILS VS WIGAN WARRIORS

The Lowdown

SALFORD RED DEVILS

  • Salford start the 2017 Super League season with something to prove after narrowly avoiding relegation in the Million Pound Game last season.
  • Aussie halfback Todd Carney signed at the end of January but he is still awaiting international clearance so his debut will have to wait a little longer.
  • In addition to Carney's visa issues, they have to do without talented quartet Tomkins, Jones, Murdoch-Masila and Huaraki who all miss out through injury.

Head Coach: Ian Watson

Squad: Kriss Brining, Justin Carney, Michael Dobson, Niall Evalds, Mark Flanagan, George Griffin, Greg Johnson, Craig Kopczak, Olsi Krasniqi, Ryan Lannon, Rob Lui, Lee Mossop, Gareth O'Brien, Junior Sa'u, Lama Tasi, Adam Walne, Jordan Walne, Josh Wood, Kris Welham

Unavailable: Todd Carney (Ineligible), Logan Tomkins (Unknown), Josh Jones (Hand), Ben Murdoch-Masila (Knee), Weller Huaraki (Foot)

WIGAN WARRIORS

  • Grand Final champions Wigan Warriors travel to Salford to kick the new season off and they can count on old faces Joe Burgess and Thomas Leuluai who return for their second stints at the club.
  • Shaun Wane has challenged his players to improve offensively this season so they will look to take a much more attacking approach starting with this game.
  • Despite having the World Club Challenge next week, they want to take this game seriously and play with high intensity to prepare for that game.

Head Coach: Shaun Wane

Squad: John Bateman, Joe Burgess, Tony Clubb, Morgan Escaré, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Willie Isa, Thomas Leuluai, Liam Marshall, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sean O'Loughlin, Sam Powell, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, Joel Tomkins, George Williams

Unavailable: Sam Tomkins (Ankle), Dom Manfredi (Knee), Michael McIlorum (Ankle)


Analysis - what to expect
Wigan narrowly won both games against Salford last season by three and four points, and they will be keen to get the new season off to a positive start. Salford's 2016 season was hampered by the salary cap penalty which led to a six-point deduction and ultimately led to a relegation fight rather than a place in the Super 8s. The Super 8s will be their target this season but this is a tough start against a Wigan team that should just have enough for another narrow victory.

WIDNES VIKINGS VS HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS

The Lowdown

WIDNES VIKINGS

  • It has been a mixed pre-season for Widnes but the loss of skipper Kevin Brown to Warrington was undoubtedly a major blow coming into the 2017 Super League season.
  • Coach Denis Betts has a whole host of absentees including the suspension of Manase Manuokafoa following his horrific tackle on St Helens' Matty Smith that broke his leg.
  • Betts is looking for a repeat of last season where they won 6 of their first 7 matches but he knows that will be a tough challenge with so many absent players.

Head Coach: Denis Betts

Squad: Tom Armstrong, Chris Bridge, Greg Burke, Hep Cahill, Jay Chapelhow, Ted Chapelhow, Danny Craven, Gil Dudson, Tom Gilmore, Rhys Hanbury, Aaron Heremaia, Chris Houston, MacGraff Leuluai, Stefan Marsh, Tom Olbison, Charly Runciman, Corey Thompson, Lloyd White, Matt Whitley

Unavailable: Joe Mellor (Knee), Manase Manuokafoa (Suspended), Eamon O'Carroll (Shoulder), Chris Dean (Torn biceps), Jack Buchanan (Unknown), Alex Gerrard (Unknown)

HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS

  • Huddersfield Giants come into the new season with good optimism and a determination to start better than their abysmal start last year, when they lost 9 of their first 10 games.
  • New Aussie star signing Jake Mamo is not quite ready to play just yet due to an ankle knock so either Gaskell or McIntosh will start at full-back until he returns.
  • The only other absentee is Sam Rapira as coach Rick Stone has his men fired up to make a fast start as they aim to reach the Super 8s this term.

Head Coach: Rick Stone

Squad: Ryan Brierley, Danny Brough, Paul Clough, Leroy Cudjoe, Dale Ferguson, Lee Gaskell, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Michael Lawrence, Kruise Leeming, Jermaine McGillvary, Darnell McIntosh, Alex Mellor, Aaron Murphy, Oliver Roberts, Daniel Smith, Tom Symonds, Ukuma Ta'ai, Shannon Wakeman

Unavailable: Jake Mamo (Ankle), Sam Rapira (Unknown)


Analysis - what to expect
This season could see a reversal in fortunes for both of these teams. Widnes Vikings started well last season and managed to reach the Super 8s, but with their various injuries and suspensions, that may affect them early in the season. The Giants on the other hand were woeful at the start of the 2016 season but coach Rick Stone is determined not to let that happen again so look for the Giants to get off to a winning start.

CASTLEFORD TIGERS VS LEIGH CENTURIONS

The Lowdown

CASTLEFORD TIGERS

  • The Tigers have had a solid pre-season and after a training camp in Lanzarote, they returned to beat St Helens in a friendly and preparations have been good.
  • Forwards Oliver Holmes and Larne Patrick are their only absentees in what is otherwise a strong squad at Daryl Powell's disposal for this opener.
  • New signings Zak Hardaker, Greg Eden and Jesse Sene-Lefao along with fit-again captain Michael Shenton are all in the squad as they look to make a fast start to the 2017 Super League season.

Head Coach: Daryl Powell

Squad: Rangi Chase, Matt Cook, Greg Eden, Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker, Andy Lynch, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Joel Monaghan, Junior Moors, Ben Roberts, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Michael Shenton, Gadwin Springer, Jake Webster

Unavailable: Oliver Holmes (Unknown), Larne Patrick (Wrist)

LEIGH CENTURIONS

  • This is Leigh's first season in the Super League since 2005, so there is plenty of anticipation around the club ahead of this opening match which is televised on Sky Sports.
  • The Centurions have signed 11 new players and while it may take them some time to bed them all in, they look well equipped to compete and survive relegation.
  • Big motivation for 23-year-old Ben Crooks who is on loan from Castleford despite making 28 appearances for them last season, so he will be keen to prove them wrong for letting him go

Head Coach: Neil Jukes

Squad: Mitch Brown, Ben Crooks, Matty Dawson, Josh Drinkwater, James Green, Ryan Hampshire, Harrison Hansen, Adam Higson, Gareth Hock, Liam Hood, Ben Reynolds, Cory Paterson, Eloi Pelissier, Martyn Ridyard, Glenn Stewart, Danny Tickle, Willie Tonga, Atelea Vea, Dayne Weston

Unavailable: James Clare (Knee), Gregg McNally (Knee)


Analysis - what to expect
There is plenty of anticipation coming into this opening match for the Leigh Centurions in front of the Sky cameras, but this will be a tough test against a strong Castleford side. The hosts lost prolific try-scorer Denny Solomona in the off-season but they have made some good signings including that of Zak Hardaker, and they should have too much firepower for the valiant Centurions.

ST HELENS VS LEEDS RHINOS

The Lowdown

ST HELENS

  • Saints have been stunned by the loss of new signing Matty Smith who will be sidelined for several months after breaking a leg in pre-season.
  • New signings Ryan Morgan, Luke Douglas, Adam Walker and Tommy Lee are all in the squad and could make their debuts.
  • The only other significant absentee for Cunningham is that of Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, who continues his recovery from hip surgery.

Head Coach: Kieron Cunningham

Squad: Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Adam Swift, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Joe Greenwood, Jon Wilkin, Luke Douglas, Adam Walker, Luke Thompson, Tommy Lee, Dominique Peyroux, Morgan Knowles, Jack Ashworth, Danny Richardson

Unavailable: Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook (Hip), Matty Smith (Broken leg)

LEEDS RHINOS

  • Leeds will want to bury the memory of last term as quickly as possible, after being forced to play in the qualifiers to stay in Super League.
  • The club are without James Segeyaro who has returned to Australia and is refusing to play for the club but Matt Parcell joins from Manly.
  • Brett Ferres, Keith Galloway and Brett Delaney are all absentees, but the squad is notably stronger and fitter than virtually the whole of last season.

Head Coach: Brian McDermott

Squad: Ashton Golding, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Matt Parcell, Adam Cuthbertson, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Stevie Ward, Liam Sutcliffe, Brad Singleton, Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Anthony Mullally, Jack Ormondroyd, Jordan Baldwinson

Unavailable: Brett Ferres (Groin), Keith Galloway (Achilles), Brett Delaney (Unknown)


Analysis - what to expect
The 2017 Super League season starts with a blockbuster as heavyweights St Helens and Leeds kick off in a fabulous match-up. Matches between the two last season contained 60 points on average and while this may not be quite as open, expect plenty of points in a match that could go either way.

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