Greg Bird is going to be a brilliant addition to Super League and Catalans – again
Greg Bird was a fairly sensational signing for Catalans first time around – proven by the fact that he returned to the NRL and became a fully-fledged international for Australia.
But although his return to the south of France raised a few eyebrows late last year given his age, Bird put in a strong performance to silence those doubters over the weekend.
He was utterly magnificent during the Dragons’ win over Warrington – and if Laurent Frayssinous is to build a team capable of challenging at the right end of Super League this season, keeping Bird fit – and in form – will be vital.
The task ahead of Widnes is as big as some feared
It was a worrying start to the season for Widnes on Friday night as they lost to a Huddersfield side tipped by some to be struggling at the wrong end of Super League this year.
Many pundits have tipped Widnes for a battle against relegation in 2017, and the home defeat to the Giants will have done little to convince those tipsters that they are wrong.
However, there is mitigation for Widnes fans. Joe Mellor is on the sidelines injured and it is beyond doubt that the Vikings will be a better side when he returns. For some, the break for the World Club Series is ill-timed: Widnes may be glad it is there.
Wakefield possess fighting spirit aplenty still under Chris Chester
The result may have been the wrong one for Wakefield against Hull FC on Sunday, but there was no shortage of the credentials which made them such a success story under Chris Chester in 2016.
Wakefield were resolute, dogged and showed enormous fighting spirit, despite going down to Jake Connor’s late try at the newly-named Beaumont Legal Stadium.
Wakefield fans will take comfort from the opening-round performance – and hope that as the conditions improve, the likes of Jacob Miller and Sam Williams ensure they are a force to be reckoned with this season.
Castleford are going to be dazzling to watch in full-flow in 2017
Perhaps the biggest talking point of the opening weekend was just how sensational Castleford Tigers were against Leigh Centurions on Friday night.
Simply put, the Tigers blew the newly-promoted Centurions off the park – and if that is to be the trend for the rest of this season, Daryl Powell’s men will be a joy to watch.
Perhaps most crucially for Powell though, he had identified an improvement in defence this season – and there were glimpses of that improvement already being there on Friday with some impressive last-ditch defending.
The play-offs are a long way off yet – but all the early signs point towards a strong season for Castleford.
Wigan are ready for the challenge of Cronulla this Sunday
For 40 minutes on Saturday afternoon, reigning Super League champions Wigan were sensational.
Questions had been levied – perhaps unfairly, given how they ultimately won the competition – at the way the Warriors played for spells of 2016, but during an opening half at Salford on Saturday which saw them romp into an unassailable 26-0 lead, Shaun Wane’s men were breathtaking.
George Williams and Tommy Leuluai look like they’ve been playing together for years, Joe Burgess has returned in fine form and, all things considered, Wigan look ready for the challenge that awaits them on Sunday.
NRL champions Cronulla bring an undoubted step up in class to the table this weekend – but Warriors fans will be quietly confident they can take down the Sharks.