Key talking points for the opening weekend of the 2019 Championship season

The Championship is back this weekend!

With arguably the strongest, most competitive second-tier line-up for years, there are plenty of talking points surrounding the opening weekend’s action. Here are some of the most important in our eyes.

Can York stun Toronto once again?

York created history in 2017 when they became the first side to inflict a league defeat on Toronto Wolfpack, in the midst of the Wolfpack’s promotion-winning season from League 1. On Sunday, they meet again in the league at Bootham Crescent – where a bumper crowd will again be expected. There would be no better way for James Ford’s side to underline their promotion credentials by surprising Brian McDermott’s Wolfpack once again, would there?

Are Featherstone going to be ready for the big kick-off?

It’s been a busy, and sometimes turbulent, off-season over at Featherstone. New coach Ryan Carr has only been here for the final weeks of pre-season – as have key signings such as the Boas brothers. With that in mind, it’s probably understandable that we may not see the best of Fev until a few weeks into the season. However, they’ve no time to hang around really: especially with a big game over at Bradford on Sunday. Will Featherstone be fully ready to go come the weekend?

Can the importance of Rochdale v Dewsbury be underestimated?

Yes, yes, it’s only the opening weekend of the season – but just how huge a game is Rochdale v Dewsbury shaping up to be already for both teams? Two of the sides tipped by some pundits to struggle at the bottom, a win this weekend for either side could well be crucial when the relegation race reaches its latter stages later in the year.. or are both teams well within their right to aim higher?

Is the pressure on Widnes to start with a bang?

Given the disappointing nature of their relegation from Super League via the Qualifiers last year, many eyes will be on how Widnes begin life in the Championship this weekend. However, they have no time to settle into life in the second-tier – not least with the visit of Halifax on the horizon this weekend. Richard Marshall’s side look more than capable of another push for promotion in 2019 – do Widnes need to start with a win?