The five most intriguing clubs going into 2016

There were plenty of stories that had us gripped throughout 2015, and next year only promises to be better.

After a wonderful first year in the Super 8s era, everyone is desperate to find out what will happen as the new season looms every nearer.

Here are the five clubs we believe will be the most fascinating in 2016.

1. Leeds RhinosMcGuireDanny9-25-0915 (1)

They achieved greatness in 2015, joining an exclusive club of teams to have won the treble.

However, a lot has changed at the Rhinos as we approach 2016 as some of their iconic stars waved goodbye.

Watching Leeds deal with the departures of Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai both on and off the field is going to be enthralling. Not only have they lost a trio of catalysts in the big games, but also three players who have been integral to the culture and philosophy the club so proudly boasts.

The likes of Stevie Ward have huge shoes to fill, and inevitably the pressure is on him and the rest to perform.

2016 is going to be a huge test of character, a coming of age if you like for the Rhinos, and we can’t wait to watch it all.


2. Salford Red DevilsDobson Salford

An inevitable entrant on this list, but watching the development of this club never ceases to amaze.

In the past, the club has been belittled and labelled a laughing stock, and unfortunately it has been difficult to always defend their corner.

However, you can’t help but think with Tim Sheens in the picture that will not remain the case. He is as professional as they come, and his qualities are most certainly matched by Marwan Koukash’s ambition.

Undoubtedly, certain circles will tout Salford as title contenders, they always do. While that is still probably an unrealistic goal, you can’t help but think 2016 could be the year the Red Devils get on the right track and begin their ascent of Super League.

It isn’t a given – they have plenty of obstacles to hurdle on their way, but realising whether the club has finally got it right or not is going to be very interesting.


3. Wakefield Trinity WildcatsBrian Smith

Let’s face it, 2015 could hardly have been worse for Wakefield, only relegation would have added further misery.

But they ultimately achieved what they had to, and now Brian Smith has the opportunity to really stamp his authority on the Wildcats.

They’ve strengthened well, but working out just how good they are is difficult at this stage. Their competitors look stronger too and whether they have caught up the rest of the pack or simply ensured they’ve not fallen further behind is something none of us will truly be able to answer until the season plays out.

A big overturn in playing personnel might make things difficult early on but the Wildcats can ill afford another season of beatings.

Ultimately, the thing that makes Wakefield so intriguing this year is the opportunity to see what Brian Smith is really all about. He’s impressed so far and passed every test, but seeing his revolutionary abilities unfold at Wakefield is something everyone is excited about.


Willie Tonga dons his new colours at LSV. Credit: Paul McCarthy
Credit: Paul McCarthy

4. Leigh Centurions

Could we ever leave them out?

It seems that everyone in Rugby League is ready and waiting to laugh at Leigh’s demise. That’s seemingly the hope within most Rugby League fanbases other than their own.

It’s a fact that Paul Rowley and Leigh know to be true, but they’re determined to silence their critics and prove that everyone really does need to believe the hype surrounding them.

And let’s face it, with the squad at their disposal they have every chance of making the big time. The challenge now is for them to prove it, and watching the club chase their Super League dream is going to be gripping from start to finish.

Like it or not, the Centurions are a threat, and they are likely to, once again, play a major role in next year’s action.


5. Sheffield EaglesWorrincy Sheffield

A culmination of 16 years hard work has seen the Eagles go full-time for the first season in their history.

In doing so, head coach Mark Aston has dissembled a team that has brought the club so much success against all the odds, and replaced them, in the nicest way possible, with a bunch of kids.

But the youngsters at Aston’s disposal have a hunger and determination to succeed, and in a full-time environment with regular game time you’d expect them improve drastically as the year goes on.

This season is arguably the biggest test in Aston’s career, and should his recruitment prove to be a failure it would have to be seen as a mistake to let so many of his players leave.

Everyone but Aston has their doubts, but they are desperate to prove those people wrong and hit new heights in the Championship. Watching the team and the club adapt to full-time life is easily one of the fascinating stories going into 2016.