Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell believes 2016 could be the year that we see a changing of the guard at the top of Super League.
The early rounds of this year’s competition have seen a number of shocks, a fact vindicated by the current league standings that see Hull FC and Widnes Vikings occupy the top two, while treble winners Leeds are currently bottom.
While there is, of course, plenty of time for that to change, early indications would suggest that a number of unfancied teams are in a far better position to mount a credible challenge this year.
And with Leeds and Huddersfield particularly struggling with a considerable injury list at this stage, Powell has the feeling that the current season could see a number of new names emerge at the top of the league.
“You never know what might happen,” Powell told TotalRL.
“Leeds have been wiped losing some of their key men and getting the injuries that they have, losing your captain and your half, a back-rower who is a real threat and a winger who is real high quality.
“We have Saints in a couple of weeks time and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond while Huddersfield have a heap of injuries. This initial period could be really difficult for them.
“If those three teams all respond and get out of it, they could then be up there at the end as they have the experience required to be at the top.
“But if they don’t, there’s space for teams, and it looks like there are many that are willing to take that on. It all bodes well for the season and hopefully there’s going to be a stiff challenge across the whole year.”
Super League has generally been a closed book, with only four teams winning the competition in its 20-year history. As a result, Powell believes a fresh look at the top might work wonders for the franchise.
“I like what is happening at the moment,” he said.
“Salford are having a pop and doing pretty well, Widnes have started well too. Maybe there’s a changing of the guard going on. That might be what this country needs, somebody else up there and for the competition to be tighter. Obviously we want to be in the mix for that.”