Predicting the Super League table for 2023 with new positions for Wigan Warriors, Hull FC and Castleford Tigers

WITH the 2022 Super League season over and St Helens crowned as champions once more, it has been interesting to see clubs wheel and deal in a bid to knock the Merseyside club off their perch.

Amongst those teams who have recruited heavily are the likes of Huddersfield Giants who have signed nine as well as the Leigh Leopards who have signed ten ahead of their first season back in the top flight.

But, what could the Super League table look like at the end of 2023?

1. Wigan Warriors

They finished as runners-up to St Helens in the table in 2022 and Wigan have managed to keep hold of Bevan French – arguably one of the greatest deals in the club’s history. There haven’t been many changes at the Warriors so far with Toby King and Jake Wardle joining in the centres and the likes of Jake Bibby, Sam Halsall and Oliver Partington departing. Matt Peet will have to do without Lee Briers as assistant coach, but he still has a brilliant backroom staff behind him with Tommy Leuluai now joining Peet on the coaching list. Wigan are probably the most likely to knock Saints off their current pedestal.

2. St Helens

Despite a change of coach resulting in Paul Wellens getting the job in place of the departing Kristian Woolf, St Helens will still be a major force to be reckoned with in 2023. With a fit Lewis Dodd and Jonny Lomax, the Merseyside club may fire on all cylinders once more next season, though they will no longer have Regan Grace. Wellens does have his work cut out to replicate the success of his predecessors, but the passion is certainly there from the Saints legend.

3. Leeds Rhinos

Following a tremendous end to the 2022 Super League season, Leeds will look to build on their Grand Final appearance under Rohan Smith with a top four charge in 2023. Though the Rhinos have lost Zak Hardaker, Brad Dwyer and Liam Sutcliffe, Smith has gone down a level to bring in the likes of Luis Roberts, Leon Ruan and Luke Hooley. The former Bradford boss’ mantra is clear: young players with a point to prove. However, Leeds do now have some salary cap space to work with following the exit of Hardaker and Jack Walker with the next signing proving vital to their top four chances.

4. Huddersfield Giants

Challenge Cup Finalists and top four Super League side in 2022, head coach Ian Watson will be aiming for more in 2023 – and he has recruited to do just that. Jake Connor has joined from Hull FC whilst Super League pros Kevin Naiqama and Jake Bibby have signed alongside Gold Coast Titans star Esan Marsters. Of course, it remains to be seen where Connor will fill in with the likes of Will Pryce, Tui Lolohea, Olly Russell and Theo Fages already at the Giants. And Watson’s decision in that regard will be key in Huddersfield’s final position.

5. Hull FC

Under the tutelage of Tony Smith, Hull FC will be much more impressive in 2023 than 2022 and the signings on their way could be further proof of that. Tex Hoy and Jake Clifford have signed from Newcastle Knights whilst Jake Trueman, Liam Sutcliffe and Brad Dwyer will certainly add a lot more to the Black and Whites. There is definitely reason to be optimistic if you are a Hull fan going into 2023.

6. Catalans Dragons

The French side endured a difficult 2022 despite starting the season off strong. Though Catalans ended up finishing in the top four, they succumbed to the Leeds Rhinos in the first round of the play-offs in a disappointing fashion. Head coach Steve McNamara and owner Bernard Guasch are set to ring the changes with the number of those departing into double figures, with Josh Drinkwater and Dylan Napa among those expected to depart despite still having a year left on his deal. If Catalans get their recruitment right for 2023 then they will finish higher, but it still remains to be seen who they will sign.

7. Salford Red Devils

Though Salford finished in the top six in 2022, it will be a harder proposition in 2023 with Paul Rowley’s side unable to go under the radar like last season. That being said, the Red Devils ended 2022 like a house on fire so it will be interesting to see if they can match that intensity for the full year. Brodie Croft and Marc Sneyd will still be the beating heart of the Salford side but with Hull and Leeds looking strong for 2023, it may be a tough ask for the Red Devils to replicate the sixth-place finish.

8. Warrington Wolves

They simply can’t be as bad as they were in 2022, but it may take another season for the Wolves to click under head coach Daryl Powell. Warrington finished second bottom last season, but the signings of Matt Dufty, Sam Kasiano and Gil Dudson et al will definitely help them going forward. Powell has also shipped out a number of players as he puts his own stamp on his squad so watch the Wolves pick up more wins in 2023, though it might not be enough to make the play-offs at the end of the season once more.

9. Castleford Tigers

It might be harsh to put Castleford in ninth after just missing out on the Super League play-offs in 2022, but Lee Radford has lost the likes of Jake Trueman and Gareth O’Brien. Among those joining the Tigers are Gareth Widdop and Jacob Miller which, if the two are on form, will be a brilliant partnership but the former spent the last half of the season out with a dislocated shoulder – the fourth time in four years – which could be a worry. Radford has tried to bolster his pack with the likes of Albert Vete and Muizz Mustapha but rivals for the play-offs – such as Warrington and Hull FC – have gone all out in the recruitment area for 2023.

10. Leigh Leopards

It will be interesting to see how the Leigh Leopards go in their first season back in Super League and it could take a while for all the new signings to gel together under Adrian Lam. Ten new signings have been recruited to take the Leopards into the top flight including the likes of Zak Hardaker, Ricky Leutele and Gareth O’Brien, with the Leigh club going for big Super League experience. The rebrand from Centurions to Leopards has also yielded the most lucrative sponsorship deal in the club’s history so everything is certainly looking positive for owner Derek Beaumont and his beloved club. They won’t finish bottom in 2023.

11. Hull KR

The Robins finished 2022 with a bulging injury list and in a slide down the Super League table. All Hull KR fans will be desperately wanting to avoid another injury crisis as big as the one which both Tony Smith and Danny McGuire had to preside over last season. Under new head coach Willie Peters, it may take some time to get used to the new playing style with Peters’ NRL experience at the Newcastle Knights perhaps destined to bring something entirely different to that of Tony Smith previously. Though the club is getting everything right off the field at present – not least the increasing crowds, gameday experience and academy set-up – 2023 could be a period of adapting for Rovers.

12. Wakefield Trinity

Each passing year comes and each year Wakefield Trinity are predicted to be near the bottom. Trinity escaped relegation in 2022 with a brilliant end-of-season run, but Willie Poching still exited the club to be replaced by former head of youth Mark Applegarth. It’s a gamble from Wakefield’s point of view given that Applegarth has no experience in first-team Super League rugby and his job is made even harder by the fact that veteran Trinity stars David Fifita, Tinirau Arona, Bill Tupou and Jacob Miller have all left the club. It will be a tough baptism of fire for Applegarth, though James Ford coming in as assistant will help.