So, we now know the identity of the four clubs that will make up Super League’s contingent in the Qualifiers.
Salford Red Devils, Hull Kingston Rovers, Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants will fight for survival as the top four in the Championship look to earn themselves a spot in the elite division in 2017.
Only survival will be acceptable for all four clubs, but the reality is that at least one of the four will have to win in the all-or-nothing ‘Million Pound Game’.
Given the alleged gap in quality between Super League and Championship, many find it hard to envisage any of the four clubs will get relegated, despite the impressive form of Leigh Centurions, who are the most viable threat to the Super League quartet.
But, as we all know, anything can happen in sport, and there is always a possibility that one team could be faced with the reality of playing in the Championship next season.
So who is most at risk? We’ve put a poll at the bottom of this article, make sure to cast your vote.
Salford Red Devils
The Red Devils wouldn’t be in this position if they hadn’t been deducted six points for breaching the salary cap rules.
However, they must now get on with the task in hand, and responded well to a turbulent week by defeating Widnes on Friday. Ian Watson’s side would be sixth if it weren’t for the punishment, which by rights should make them the favourites going into the competition.
They’ve already been through this once, and excluding a shock defeat to Bradford in last year’s Qualifiers, they went pretty well.
On paper they are stronger this year, and if they deal with it mentally, they should be OK.
Hull Kingston Rovers
For a long time now, a fair number of people have suggested that James Webster’s side are the club most at risk of relegation. The loss of Terry Campese has been regarded as a huge blow, but to their credit, they have responded well to his injury and recently picked up a draw with Warrington.
Despite that, people still believe they are vulnerable, with a halfback replacement yet to arrive through the doors. Having already lost to Championship opposition this year in the Challenge Cup against Oldham, that will give the Championship’s top four hope.
However, Rovers still possess threats across the field, and they won’t be easy to beat.
If this question had been asked a few months ago, many would have answered with the Rhinos.
However, their recent run of form has been very impressive and have now defeated Super League’s top two teams in the last two weeks.
With players returning from injury and form picking up, it’s difficult to see the Rhinos being troubled. But at the same time, with clubs after the scalp of the reigning Champions it makes it that bit more difficult, and we have seen how bad they can be.
The majority believe the Giants are too good to go down, but that isn’t the message coming from Huddersfield fans.
The Giants faithful is concerned. Bottom of the league and inconsistent, you never quite know what you’re going to get.
Rick Stone’s arrival could work one of two ways, and the Giants will be praying that it goes in their favour.