The 2013 Super League season is the 18th season of rugby league football since the Super League format was introduced in 1996.
14 teams will compete for the league leader’s shield which will be won by the team with the most consistency throughout the 27 rounds.
After 27 rounds have been completed, including the Etihad magic weekend, Super League enters its Play Off format (Top 8 teams) in which each team battles it out to reach the Grand Final and lift the prestigious Super League Trophy.
14 Super League Teams For 2013
Bradford Bulls, Castleford Tigers, Catalan Dragons, Huddersfield Giants, Hull, Hull Kingston Rovers, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos, Salford City Reds, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings and Wigan Warriors.
Rule Changes for Super League XVIII
- Kicking the ball dead from inside your own half: Where the ball is kicked dead or touch in goal from inside the kicker’s own half, play will be restarted with a handover at the centre of the 40m line nearest to the non-kicking team’s goal line.
- Charge down: Charging down the ball does not restart the tackle count. If the kicking team regains possession the tackle count will continue as before. The charge down will still not count as a knock on.
- Attacking team option to reduce numbers in scrum: Where a team is awarded a scrum, the feeding team has the option of only putting five men in the scrum giving them eight “backs” to attack with.
Bradford Bulls: Bradford had the worst 2012 any team could imagine, going into administration and making all of the backroom staff redundant ending the season in 9th spot. Bradford were given a 6 point penalty which cost them a spot in last season’s playoffs, after going on a decent run of 6 wins out of their last 10 matches, Wigan away being the highlight but the 6 point penalty pen ultimately ended their 2012 season.
2013 holds anything but optimism for the Bulls, last season the rugby league community raised over 500k to keep the Bulls in Super League and it was a good move, now owed by Omar Khan a local business man from Bradford so the clubs best interests will be taken care of, Bradford were given a one-year probationary license enabling them to compete in 2013.
Bradford have not finished in the play off positions since 2008 and have an uphill struggle this season. Francis Cummins is going to have a tough first season at the helm and the play offs will be the aim but I can’t see them making too many waves in 2013.
Transfers In: Matty Blythe (Warrington) Ben Evans (Warrington) Jamie Foster (St Helens) Adam Sidlow (Salford)
Transfers Out: Tom Burgess, Ian Sibbit, Kyle Briggs, Ben Jeffries, Olivier Elima, Bryn Hargreaves, Jason Crookes, Paul Sykes, Craig Kopczak, Karl Pryce, and Phil Joseph.
Players to Watch: Luke Gale, John Bateman and Elliott Whitehead
Castleford Tigers: Castleford were a little bit like Bradford throughout the 2012 campaign and were cannon fodder for many teams, losing their last 7 games straight and had a -394 points difference come the final game of the season; Castleford will need a better season under Ian Millward and the return of Michael Shenton could easily give Castleford that little boost and also bring the crowds back to the Probiz Coliseum.
Last season Castleford were beaten in the Challenge cup by Featherstone Rovers 23-16 who ply their trade in the Championship, I’m sure this season Cas will be looking to move in the right direction and will be aiming for the Play offs and if the likes of Michael Shenton, Daryl Clark and Craig Huby all have good seasons I can see Castleford getting close to the play offs but I think they will just miss out.
Castleford have recruited well for 2013 and have added plenty of experienced Super League players with the likes of Lee Gilmour, Keith Mason and Michael Shenton. Shenton is a former Tiger coming back to finish his playing career with the club he started off with and has been made club captain by manager Ian Millward. I predict a better season from the Tigers and the play offs are well within their grasp.
Transfers In: Michael Shenton (St Helens) Jake Webster (Hull KR) Lee Gimour (Huddersfield) Jordan Tansey (York) Justin Carney (Roosters) Weller Haruaki (Leeds) and Keith Mason (Huddersfield)
Transfers Out: Joe Arundel, Nick Youngquest, Paul Jackson, Ryan Hudson, John Davies, Stuart Jones, Josh Griffin, Steve Snitch, Richie Mathers and Ryan Brierley.
Players to Watch: Rangi Chase, Daryl Clark and Craig Huby
Catalan Dragons: Catalan Dragons over the years have improved dramatically and each year you see something different as the class of player plying their trade in France has increased year on year. Since finishing bottom in 2010 the Dragons have improved on all fronts and the biggest change has been their ability to get results away from home. Catalan are usually formidable in front of the passionate French fans but away from home has been their down fall but over the last 3 years you can see the French club has come and long way and 2013 could well be a good season for the Dragons.
Last season the Dragons were beaten in a sudden death play-off by eventual winners Leeds Rhinos and this shows how far Catalan have come not just as a franchise but as a club as well, 11,523 supporters turned up to watch the Leeds game and with the likes of Scott Dureau, Steve Menzies and Olivier Elima back the Dragons will be again a team to beat this season and will have plenty of new techniques with new coach Laurent Frayssinous looking to stamp his on mark on the Dragons for 2013.
The French have recruited well for 2013 signing, Brent Webb, Zeb Taia and Oliver Elima who will all add a new direction to the Dragons, however the loss of Clint Greenshields and David Ferriol will be a big loss for the Dragons but I can see them challenging for silverware this season if it’s not in the challenge cup then a push in the play-offs is right within their grasp.
Transfers In: Brent Webb (Leeds) Zeb Taia (Knights) Olivier Elima (Bradford)
Transfer Out: Setaimata Sa, Clint Greensheilds, Ben Fisher, David Ferriol, Cyril Stacul, Seb Raguin, Cyril Gossard, Frederic Vaccari.
Players to Watch: Scott Dureau, Olivier Elima and Leon Pryce
Huddersfield Giants: Huddersfield started like a house on fire last season, winning 10 out of the first 12 matches and looked like they had turned a corner. Beating Wigan at the DW, Leeds at Headingley and Bradford at Odsal 2012 looked like it could be the turn of the Huddersfield Giants but it’s a marathon not a sprint and their fast start caught up with them towards the end of the season losing 7 out of 10 losing heavily at Castleford, St Helens and beaten 35-14 at home to Wakefield showed that winning games at the start of the season is competitive but winning games towards of the end of the season is crucial, Huddersfield finished 7th and went out in the first game of the play-offs.
Nathan Brown who had been the catalyst for the Giants throughout his reign as head coach was given his papers along with Club Captain Kevin Brown and to me Brown overstayed his welcome by a year or so if you ask me, he decided he was going to leave and go back to Australia but then he goes and signs a deal with St Helens, It’s a step up from the Giants but what has he got in his locker for 2013 is to be seen and for me Saints could of done better in their search for a head coach and kept Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham on.
2013 is a new chapter for the Huddersfield Giants and its Paul Andersons first full year in charge so we will have to wait and see what he has to offer but if it’s anything to go by towards the end of the season Huddersfield will be looking over their shoulders towards 6th, 7th and 8th if you ask me. I like the Giants, they have some talented players but this really is a make or break year for them, last season the Giants went from 1st to 7th which just isn’t good enough and more is needed from the Giants in 2013.
Transfers In: Brett Ferres (Cas) Ukuma Ta’ai (Warriors), Anthony Mullally (Widnes), Stuart Fielden (Wigan), Craig Kopczak (Bradford).
Transfers Out: Kevin Brown, David Fa’alogo, Scott Moore, Tommy Lee, Lee Gilmour, Adam Walker, Greg Eden and Keith Mason.
Players to Watch: Danny Brough, Larne Patrick and Craig Kopczak
Hull FC: Since Super League XII Hull FC has been a club which has been talked about at the beginning of every season since 2007 but always seem to fall short and never deliver. 2012 was a sum what transitional period for the black and whites, losing some close games but one thing which stuck out for me was the lack of a decent kicker, don’t get me Wrong Danny Tickle is one of the best goal kickers in Super League but goal kicking and tactical kicking during games are 2 separate skills in itself and throughout 2012 Hull relied on Danny Houghton for much of the season but he just isn’t in the same league as the likes of Lee Briers, Kevin Sinfield and Danny Brough so Hull fell short in many games that I watched are were pretty poor in that aspect in 2012.
2013 also brings new life to the black and whites, with the signings of, Shannon McDonnell, Daniel Holdsworth and Gareth Ellis Hull FC look like a club who are going in the right direction and could well be the surprise package for 2013. Last season Peter Gentle was trying to get 17 fit players out on the pitch towards the end of the season and had to blood a lot of youngsters which will help them this season, they are another season hardened and will benefit this year.
I like the look of Hull FC this season, they have signed players in the right positions and have also added quality in them positions as well, the likes of Joe Arundel, Ben Galea and Liam Watts along with all the other quality the black and whites poses in 2013 I’m predicting big things this season and a trophy is well within their grasps.
Transfers In: Jay Pitts (Leeds) Liam Watts (Hull KR) Gareth Ellis (Wests) Joe Arundel (Cas) Daniel Holdsworth (Salford) Paul Johnson (Wakefield) Ben Galea (Hull KR) Jason Crookes (Bradford) and Shannon McDonnell (Hull KR)
Transfers Out: Will Sharp, Jordan Turner, Sam Moa, Tony Martin, Willie Manu and Reece Lyne
Players to Watch: Gareth Ellis, Joe Arundel and Joe Westerman
Hull KR: Hull KR battle it out each season to be kings of Hull and last season they played their bitter rivals Hull FC on 3 occasions winning 1 and losing 2 and the game they won they scored a try on the hooter to win the game, the black and white’s were 30-16 up with 15 to play and ended up losing 32-30 after David Hodgson danced his way through a tired Hull FC defence which capped off a miserable season for Hull KR.
Craig Sandercock took over in 2012 and some might say his win over Warrington in June could well be his brightest point as KR coach as everything after that seemed to collapse very quickly. Hull KR’s form towards the end of Super League last season was nothing but appalling, losing 8 out of 9, beating only Widnes throughout that spell and ended up finishing 10th in the table and that’s not what we have come to accept from Hull KR over the past couple of seasons and hopefully for Sandercock his first year in Super League was a transitional one and 2013 can be a better year for KR but I have my doubts.
Hull KR have signed a couple of Aussie imports and I for one am looking forward to seeing the partnership between Burns and Dobson at 6 and 7 in 2013 and if both can stay fit Hull KR have a chance of finishing in 8th spot, We will have to wait and see what Cory Paterson and Evarn Tuimavave have got to offer and I’m sure if these 4 players can start the season of well Hull KR could just surprise a few teams including myself along the way my only problem with Hull KR is the amount of playing staff that has left on the off season, plenty of reliable guys for KR over the years have now departed so only time will tell if the new recruits have what it takes to fight for top spot in Humberside.
Transfers In: Cory Paterson (Knights) Evarn Tuimavae (Knights) Sean Gleeson (Salford) Omari Caro (London) Travis Burns (Penrith) Greg Eaden (Huddersfield)
Transfer Out: Liam Watts, Scott Wheeldon, Ben Galea, Blake Green, Scott Taylor, Jake Webster, Joel Clinton, Jason Netherton, Scott Murrell, and Louis Sheriff
Players to Watch: Travis Burns, Josh Hodgson and Greg Eden
Leeds Rhinos: Leeds have maintained their run as Grand Final winners and have finished 5th on their last 2 attempts at winning the Grand Final and this season for me will be no different. Looking through the Rhinos squad it’s got plenty of depth with good quality players but rely heavily on Kevin Sinfields boot and over the last couple of years Leeds have shown us that when it counts they can perform but as a consistent team throughout a calendar year they fall short.
Leeds had a great season in 2012, reaching the Challenge Cup final and Grand final winning the latter but falling short to a strong Warrington side at Wembley. Finishing 5th and winning the Grand Final for the past 2 seasons is something special and the most successful side in the Super League era will need all those skills again in 2013 as many teams around them have strengthened and will be challenging for spots in and around where I believe the Rhinos will finish this season.
No major signings for 2013 for the Rhinos, Mitchell Achurch and Joel Moon will add another dimension to the Rhinos thus giving utility man Carl Ablett a longer run in his favoured 2nd Row position, this may not start until BJB gets back to full fitness though so keep your eye out for Anytime try scorers this year. Leeds will always finish the season strongly and history tells us that, can they get to another Grand Final this season, is the question I ask myself and in 2013 I think you will see at least 1 new team in this seasons Grand Final.
Transfers In: Mitchell Achurch (Penrith), Liam McAvoy (Bradford) Joel Moon (Salford) Joe Vickery (Gold Coast)
Transfer Out: Jay Pitts, Lee Smith, Brent Webb, Luke Ambler, Weller Hauaki and Shaun Lunt
London Broncos: London over the years have made plenty of strides in Super League but over the past couple of seasons it’s been a massive struggle for the London outfit to compete week in week out and the lack of crowds also has an effect as most Super League teams can get 8k plus home crowds and London struggle to get 1.5 k at home most weeks and surely 2013 will be no different?
London finished 2012 with wins over Salford, Castleford and Hull KR and put Warrington to shame beating them 62-18 mid August but London’s start to the season and middle part of the year was disastrous. Tony Rea has been out of the game for some time but looked like he had installed some pride back in his London pack towards the end of the year so 2013 is a new era for the Broncos with a coach who last coached in Super League 10 years ago.
Looking through London’s squad It doesn’t instil me with much confidence and if they pick up a few injuries to key players London could well struggle again in 2013, Tony Rea will have a full pre season with his new troops and with experienced players like Craig Gower, Luke Dorn and Tony Clubb London have a very good base of experience and youth so only time will tell if Tony Rea can make an impact in Super League XVIII
Transfers In: Shane Grady (Thirroul Butchers) Tommy Lee (Huddersfield) and Alex Hurst (Swinton)
Transfers Out: Julien Rinaldi, Lamont Bryan, Omari Caro, Karl Temata
Salford City Reds: Well it’s been a rough ride for Salford over the summer and the move to the new Salford City Stadium has not been as successful as people would of imagined and with the winding-up petition still being looked into by HM revenue and Customs all looks very bleak for the greater Manchester club or does it? Over the past couple of days Dr Marwan Koukash has stated he is willing to purchase Salford City Reds and the stadium they play in which will come as a major boost to the Salford club ahead of the 2013 season.
Reports broke today that if Koukash does purchase the Salford City Reds he may be on the lookout for a major crowd pleaser and Gareth Hock has mentioned to me today and if they could pull that off that would be one of the biggest coups in many a year but I for one am glad the Salford City Reds have found someone to take the reins and it’s now up-to the coaching staff to get more players on board.
With all the troubles Salford still have 2013 can surely only be to survive and try and rebuild for the 2014 I know 2013 hasn’t even started yet but you have to be realistic Salford just don’t have the playing staff to do anything this year in my eyes and are my favourites to pick up the wooden spoon. When you look at the players which have left and the lack being brought in I fear for Salford this season but maybe Dr Marwan Koukash can put his hand in his pockets and give Salford a real boost in 2013.
Transfers In: Andrew Dixon (St Helens) and Martin Gleeson
Transfers Out: Matty Smith, Luke Patten, Sean Gleeson, Daniel Holdsworth, Luke Adamson, Iafeta Palea’aesina, Josh Veivers, Adam Sidlow and Joel Moon.
St Helens: Saints over the past couple of seasons have not set the world alight but have still done reasonably well throughout the year and I see Saints being one of the teams to beat this season and the additions of Willie Manu and Jordan Turner are 2 great bits of business and I can see Saints getting to a final this year, which final that is I’m not too sure about but 2013 on the looks of it looks to be a good year for the Saints.
Last season Saints had a terrible start to the campaign and former coach Royce Simmons got his marching orders and both Mike Rush and Kieron Cunningham took the reins and transformed Saints and instilled some much needed character and desire to the dressing room which ended up with them finishing 3rd on the league ladder and Semi finalists of the play-offs. 2013 see’s aussie Nathan Brown taking over and even though he has done good things at the Huddersfield Giants I’m not his biggest fan and you just watch when Saints have a mid season dip in 2013, If they don’t get off to a good start his head could soon be on the line.
Even with Nathan Brown as coach I think 2013 will be a good year for the Saints, usually they get to the semi finals of the Challenge Cup which I can see them getting to again and the higher they finish on the league ladder the better chances they will have during the play-offs. Saints finished 3rd last season and I think they can go one better this year and it could well be tight for stop spot with only 2 sides being able to win it in my opinion.
Transfers In: Jordan Turner (Hull FC) Willie Manu (Hull FC) and Alex Walmsley (Batley)
Transfers Out: Michael Shenton, Chris Flannery, Jamie Foster and Shaun Magennis
Players to Watch: Jordan Turner, James Roby and Josh Jones
Wakefield Wildcats: Wakey had a great 2012 on the pitch finishing 8th on the ladder and what a remarkable feat this was from a team given no hope at the start of the season. After losing 10-52 at home to Wigan, Wakefield went on 7 game winning streak which was there best winning streak in club history to reach the play-offs beating the likes of Huddersfield, Leeds and Saints along the way, they were beaten in game 1 of the play-offs by Leeds at Headingley and maybe this was just a bridge to far for the Wakefield outfit.
3 players really stood out for me last year for the Wildcats and with the addition of Paul Sykes signing from Bradford on a full time deal and with the influential Tim Smith playing out of his skin and the likes of Richie Mathers, Lee Smith and Andy Raleigh playing their part in a good year 2013 is generally new ground for the Wildcats, can they improve on 8th last season? Only time will tell.
I like to look of Wakefield and along with Castleford these 2 teams have a lot more in them in 2013 and the Wildcats should be enforced more with the signing of Justin Poore a former State of Origin front rower and will be a great addition for Wakefield this season. If Tim Smith and Isaac John can get the Wildcats off to a good start this season the play-offs could well be within their reach, I’m hoping they can do themselves justice in 2013 but the jury is still out on Wakefield for me, was last season miraculous 7 game winning run just a shot in the pan ??
Transfers In: Lee Smith (Leeds) Paul Sykes (Bradford) Reece Lyne (Hull FC) Justin Poore (Parramatta) Richie Mathers (Castleford) Brad Singleton (Leeds)
Transfers Out: Paul Johnson, Andy Ellis, Dale Morton, Russell Spiers, Matt James, Motu Tony and Adam Slater
Players to Watch: Tim Smith, Justin Poore and Frankie Mariano
Warrington Wolves: 2012 was a great year for the Warrington Wolves, winning the Challenge Cup final and making their 1st appearance in a Grand Final at Old Trafford. Tony Smith has been an absolute revelation at the Wolves and what you have seen over the past couple of seasons Warrington have attempted to do throughout the Super League era with other coaches and found no success at all, so a massive amount of Warrington’s good fortunes lie with Tony Smith and he has turned Warrington into a successful rugby league team.
Not a lot of activity for the Wolves in the off season, no new faces coming in but Warrington’s squad is one of the most competitive in the competition and with the likes of Chris Hill and Stefan Ratchford having a full season with the Wolves underneath their belts 2013 could well be the Wolves year after falling at the final hurdle last season in the Grand Final losing to Leeds Rhinos 26-18. Warrington have a more experienced look about them these days and this could well turn out to be the year Warrington arrived as Super League champions.
2012 can only be bettered by the Wolves by taking that final step and lifting the Super League Trophy at Old Trafford, Warrington will be favourites in most games next season and if they can get off to a good start which looks to have been kind to them this season anything is possible, Saints and Catalan away are Warrington’s last 2 games which could be crucial for the league leaders shield.
Transfers Out: David Solomona, Matty Blythe, Lee Mitchell and Ben Evans
Players to Watch: Ben Westwood, Chris Hill and Gareth O’Brien
Widnes Vikings: It’s good to see the Vikings back in Super League and 2012 was a rude awakening for Widnes but in the long run everyone knew what was going to happen in their 1st season but it’s now year 2 for the Chemics and it’s time to look forward and look up the table, there is no excuses now to say well it’s our 1st season back in Super League it’s 2013 and Widnes 2nd season in Super League. Widnes finished with 12 points last season and I’m sure if they can get off to a better start this year 12 points should be beaten in 2013.
The signing of Kevin Brown shows the ambition of the Vikings but no other signings for 2013 leaves me a little bemused as to where I think Widnes will finish this season. To me Widnes needed to get a few more experienced bodies in and if the news is true about Gareth Hock then Widnes will have a better season but can they compete for the play-offs the easy answer is No.
2013 will be another learning curve for the Vikings and all its fans so don’t expect Denis Betts to work miracles and maybe not finishing bottom is the aim for this season, I can only see 1 team finishing below Widnes and that’s Salford so it’s a step in the right direction but more is needed in playing staff if they want to challenge for the top 8.
Transfer In: Kevin Brown (Huddersfield) Eamon O’Carroll (Wigan) Joe Mellor (Wigan) Stefan Marsh (Wigan) and Phil Joseph
Transfer Out: Scott Moore, Anthony Watts, Anthony Mullally Simon Finnigan, Paul McShane, Sione Kite and Thomas Coyle
Players to Watch: Rhys Hanbury, Danny Craven and Paddy Flynn
Wigan Warriors: Wigan Warriors are the most successful rugby league team in the UK and have reels and reels of top class players from past era’s including Jason Robinson, Martin Offiah, Henry Paul, Shaun Edwards the list is endless and when you look at Wigan’s 2013 squad it looks a little light in some areas and if the rumours of Gareth Hock leaving are true that’s another body they will need to replace and if Sam Tomkins gets injured Wigan will be in a world of pain.
When you look through Wigan’s team they have a good squad of players but if you look at who has left last season and the people who have been brought in to replace them most Wigan fans will tell you it’s not good enough. The likes of Brett Finch, Tommy Leuluai Jeff Lima and George Carmont have all left the club being replaced with Scott Taylor, Matty Smith and Blake Greene you do the math Wigan are a much weaker side in 2013 than they were in 2012.
Matty Smith and Blake Greene as a half back partnership doesn’t really frighten me too much and with the fact Blake Greene missed most of 2012 with injury doesn’t instil me with that much confidence he will go through this season unscathed and Wigan will need to find consistency early doors and get into a rhythm as they will be tested as early as round 2 with the visit of the Warrington Wolves a game in which Wigan have found very difficult over the past few years.
Transfers In: Matty Smith (Salford) Blake Greene (Hull KR) and Scott Taylor (Hull KR)
Transfers Out: Brett Finch, Thomas Leuluai, George Carmont, Amos Roberts, Jeff Lima, Matty Russell, Stefan March, Joe Mellor and Stuart Fielden.
Players to Watch: Sam Tomkins, Josh Charnley and Liam Farrell