2013 Super League Preview

The 2013 Super League season gets underway this weekend as the race to Old Trafford begins.

Leeds Rhinos defied all odds to retain their title from fifth, last October and few will back against them again.

They will face the usual challenges from there other rivals Warrington, St Helens and Wigan.

Hull FC could be the dark horses after spending heavily in the off season.

In a big year for the sport the season will culminate in November with the Rugby League World Cup being staged in the UK.

So below we will have a look the prospects for all the teams in this year's Super League:

Bradford Bulls
Last Year:            9th
New Coach:          Francis Cummins
Ins: Matty Blythe (Warrington), Ben Evans (Warrington, season-long loan), Jamie Foster (St Helens), Adam Sidlow (Salford)
Outs: Tom Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Olivier Elima (Catalan), Kyle Briggs (Featherstone, mid-season), Jason Crookes (Hull FC), Paul Sykes (Wakefield), Callum Windley (Hunslet), Craig Kopczak (Huddersfield), Shaun Ainscough (Southcity Bulls), Cain Southernwood (Whitehaven), Liam McAvoy (Leeds), Karl Pryce (released), Phil Joseph (Widnes), Ben Jeffries, Ian Sibbit, Bryn Hargreaves (all retired).

Prospects: Now on a firm footing after coming out of Administration and  being taken over by Bradford Curry magnate Omar Khan, have a new young coach in Francis Cummins could challenge for the eight with some good young players  but have a small squad.

Castleford Tigers
Last Year:            13th
Coach:                   Ian Millward
Ins: Justin Carney (Sydney Roosters), Michael Shenton (St Helens), Jake Webster (Hull KR), Weller Hauraki (Leeds), Jordan Tansey (York), Keith Mason, Lee Gilmour (both Huddersfield), Jamie Ellis (Hull FC)
Outs: Nick Youngquest, Danny Orr, Ryan Hudson (all retired), Joe Arundel (Hull FC), Josh Griffin (Leeds Carnegie), Steve Snitch (Northern Pride), Stuart Jones (released), Lee Mitchell (Warrington), Paul Jackson (Whitehaven), John Davies (Batley), Richie Mathers (Wakefield), Brett Ferres, Ben Blackmore (both Huddersfield)

Prospects: Can only improve after a disappointing 2012 . Coach Ian Millward has brought in some experience  but will hope that  talisman Rangi Chase will show his skills as they look to climb the table and be more competitive.

Catalan Dragons
Last Year:            4th
New Coach:          Laurent Frayssinous
Ins: Brent Webb (Leeds), Zeb Taia (Newcastle Knights), Olivier Elima (Bradford)
Outs: Setaimata Sa (London Irish RUFC), Clint Greenshields (North Queensland), Ben Fisher (London Broncos), David Ferriol (retired), Cyril Stacul (Pia), Sebastien Raguin, Jean Phillipe-Baile (both released)

Prospects: Unnder the new coaching team of Laurent Frayssinous and David Waite they will look to continue where Trent Robinson left off good new exciting signings in Brent Webb from Leeds and ex Newcastle Knight Zeb Taia. Will also be difficult to beat in the South of France.

Huddersfield Giants
Last Year:             7th
Coach:                   Paul Anderson
Ins: Brett Ferres, Ben Blackmore (both Castleford), Ukuma Ta'ai (New Zealand Warriors), Anthony Mullally (Widnes), Stuart Fielden (Wigan), Craig Kopczak (Bradford), Shaun Lunt (Leeds, loan return)
Outs: Kevin Brown (Widnes), David Fa'alogo (Newcastle Knights), Scott Moore (North Queensland), Tommy Lee (London Broncos), Lee Gilmour, Keith Mason (both Castleford), Adam Walker, Greg Eden (both Hull KR), Ross Peltier (Keighley), Tony Tonks (Halifax), Jon Molloy, Matthew Sarsfield (both released)

Prospects: Paul Anderson put his stamp on the team by having a big strong pack. Need to finish the season well after falling away in last couple of years

Hull FC
Last Year:             6th          
Coach:                   Peter Gentle
Ins: Jay Pitts (Leeds), Liam Watts, Ben Galea, Shannon McDonnell (all Hull KR), Gareth Ellis (Wests Tigers), Joe Arundel (Castleford), Daniel Holdsworth (Salford), Paul Johnson (Wakefield), Jason Crookes (Bradford)
Outs: Jordan Turner, Willie Manu (both St Helens), Sam Moa (Sydney Roosters), Reece Lynne (Wakefield), Tony Martin (retired), Will Sharp (released), Eamon O'Carroll (Widnes)

Prospects: Made plenty of signings in the off-season,  including world class second rower Gareth Ellis who has been made skipper . Always have a good record at the K.C. Stadium top six side could be real dark horses..

Hull KR
Last Year:            10th
Coach:                   Craig Sandercock
Ins: Cory Paterson (North Queensland), Sean Gleeson (Salford), Evarn Tuimavave (Newcastle Knights), Travis Burns (Penrith Panthers), Omari Caro (London Broncos), Alex Brown (Batley), Adam Walker, Greg Eden (both Huddersfield)
Outs: Scott Wheeldon (London Broncos), Ben Galea, Shannon McDonnell, Liam Watts (all Hull FC), Jake Webster (Castleford), Joel Clinton, Dave Petersen, Jason Netherton (all Mackay Cutters), Blake Green, Scott Taylor (both Wigan), Scott Murrell (Halifax), Louis Sheriff (Redcliffe Dolphins), Nick Johnson (Gateshead Thunder)

Prospects: A lot will depend on half back pair Michael Dobson and new signing ex Panther Travis Burns  if they can improve on last year and creep into a play-off spot.

Leeds Rhinos
Last Year:             5th                  (Grand Final Winners)
Coach:                   Brian McDermott
Ins: Mitch Achurch (Penrith Panthers), Liam McAvoy (Bradford), Joel Moon (Salford), Joe Vickery (Gold Coast Titans)
Outs: Jay Pitts (Hull FC), Lee Smith (Wakefield), Brent Webb (Catalan), Jared Steward (Newcastle Falcons RUFC), Luke Ambler (Halifax), Weller Hauraki (Castleford), Shaun Lunt (Huddersfield, loan return)

Prospects: The Champions will want to finish in the top four, but when the play-offs come around they will be the team to beat made some good additions to their squad especially the exciting Joel Moon who will add strike out wide.

London Broncos
Last Year:             12th
Coach:                   Tony Rhea
Ins: Shane Grady (Thirroul Butchers), Tommy Lee (Huddersfield), Alex Hurst (Swinton Lions)
Outs: Ben Bolger (Abu Dhabi Harlequins), Karl Temata (Limoux), Omari Caro (Hull KR), Lamont Bryan (Featherstone), Rob Thomas, Joe Ridley (both London Skolars), Jason Golden (York City Knights), Julien Rinaldi (retired), Max Edwards, Sam Bolger (both released)

Prospects: Tony Rhea will look for more consistency from  his side this year. They will rely on Craig Gower to get them round the park hoping to increase their supporter base at the Stoop.

Salford City Reds
Last Year:                             11th
Coach:                                   Phil Veivers
Ins: Andrew Dixon (St Helens), Martin Gleeson (unattached)
Outs: Matty Smith (Wigan), Sean Gleeson (Hull KR), Daniel Holdsworth (Hull FC), Luke Adamson (Bath RUFC), Iafeta Palea'aesina, Luke Towers (both Limoux Grizzlies), Callum Marriott (Oldham Roughyeds), Andy Morris, Adam Walne (both Workington Town), Adam Sidlow (Bradford), Joel Moon (Leeds), Luke Patten (retired), Josh Veivers (released)

Prospects: On the brink of takeover by racehorse owner Dr Marwan Koukash, so should have some funds to strengthen. At the moment they have a wafer thin squad and look certain to be at the bottom end of the table

St Helens
Last Year:             3rd           (Lost in play-off semis League)
New Coach:          Nathan Brown
Ins: Willie Manu, Jordan Turner (both Hull FC), Alex Walmsley (Batley)
Outs: Michael Shenton (Castleford), Jamie Foster (Bradford), Chris Flannery, Shaun Magennis (both retired)

Prospects: Under new coach Nathan Brown they have made big signings and look strong will be in the mix for everything a certain top four team  as they look to end thier five year run without silverware.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Last Year:             8th          
Coach:                   Richard Agar
Ins: Lee Smith, Brad Singleton (both Leeds, Singleton on loan), Richie Mathers (Castleford), Paul Sykes (Bradford), Reece Lyne (Hull FC), Justin Poore (Parramatta Eels), Bobbie Goulding (Warrington)
Outs: Paul Johnson (Hull FC), Andy Ellis (Featherstone), Dale Morton, Russell Spiers (both Dewsbury), Adam Slater (Burleigh Bears), Steve Southern, Motu Tony, James Davey, Matt James (all released)

Prospects: The surprise team of 2012 who came from nowhere to make the eight. Richard Agar's men will do well to repeat last year's finish Justin Poore will add steal to the pack.

Warrington Wolves
Last Year:             2nd           (Lost in play-off semis Challenge Cup Winners)
Ins: None
Outs: Matty Blythe, Ben Evans (both Bradford), Lee Mitchell (Central Queensland Capras), Ben Hellewell (Featherstone), Brooke Broughton (Doncaster), Bobbie Goulding (Wakefield), David Solomona (retired)

Prospects: Will look to go one better than last year and take the big prize. Most peoples favourites significantly no major gains , strength in depth  top two material.

Widnes Vikings
Last Year:            14th       
Coach:                   Dennis Betts
Ins: Kevin Brown (Huddersfield), Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor (both Wigan), Eamon O'Carroll (Hull) Phil Joseph (Bradford), Gareth Hock (Wigan)
Outs: Anthony Mullally (Huddersfield), Simon Finnigan, Thomas Coyle (both Leigh Centurions), Kurt Haggerty (Barrow Raiders), Alex Brown, Sione Kite (both released)

Prospects: Dennis Betts has made some key acquisitions with the big signings of Kevin Brown and the loan capture of Gareth Hock from Wigan standing out. No wooden spoon repeat could make the play-offs certain to be more competitive.

Wigan Warriors
Last Year:             1st            (Lost in play-off semis League Leaders Shield Winners)
Coach:                   Shaun Wane
Ins: Blake Green, Scott Taylor (both Hull KR), Matty Smith (Salford)
Outs: Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor (Widnes), Thomas Leuluai (New Zealand Warriors), Brett Finch (Melbourne Storm), Jeff Lima (South Sydney), Matthew Russell (Gold Coast), Stuart Fielden (Huddersfield), George Carmont, Amos Roberts (both retired), Ryan King (released), Gareth Hock (Widnes)

Prospects: Lots of changes for the Warriors new half-back pairing of Blake Green and Matty Smith. Will miss the experience of their departed players, Sam Tomkins the key possibly not as strong as last year but you will never write Wigan off.