It’s the end of the Super League season, so as we await the start of the play-offs, I’ve become headmaster Schoey once again and I’m delivering my annual report, with marks out of ten, for each of the twelve clubs.
In ascending order, here we go…
Most people, myself included, expected the newcomers to go straight back down – and we weren’t wrong.
Like many, I thought Toulouse would have made at least one-high profile close-season signing, not just to boost their squad, but to raise their profile and create some additional interest.
But that didn’t happen, then they were hit by the departure of key men Mark Kheirallah and Johnathon Ford on the eve of the campaign.
They didn’t lack effort or spirit, but they did lack enough high-quality players to get enough wins to survive. 5/10.
Wow what a shocker!
It’s obvious Daryl Powell and what will be a new-look team will have to do much, much better in 2023.
I know there’s been a bedding-in period, and that it takes time to instil new methods and tactics, but with the talent at the club – and the players also must take responsibility – Warrington should be far above second-bottom. What a dire outcome!
There are massive expectations on anyone who takes charge, and neither Daryl nor the club can afford a repeat of this dismal season. 2/10.
Talk about survival specialists!
Wakefield have had a few highs during their Super League tenure, but over 25 seasons so far, there seem to have been far more scrapes than successes.
Credit to Willie Poching for lifting his team off the foot of the table, because at one stage not too long ago, things were looking distinctly bleak.
Lewis Murphy has been a stand-out, but the big worry for Trinity supporters is that with several players leaving and no suggestion of better ones coming in, how long can they keep beating the drop? 5/10.
This has been another disappointing year for the Black and Whites, who have flattered to deceive and once again under Brett Hodgson, been far too inconsistent to make a genuine push for the play-offs.
I always get the impression that my first professional club are good at talking the talk, but not quite so hot when it comes to walking the walk.
And to many senior players have faltered, with Josh Reynolds leaving, Luke Gale struggling and all-too-frustrating Jake Connor a rock as often as he is a diamond.
I feel for the fans. 4/10.
It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster for the Rovers faithful.
They had high hopes of kicking on after getting to last year’s play-off semi-finals, but the campaign was soon disrupted by Tony Smith’s out-of-the-blue announcement that he would be leaving at the end of it.
That created uncertainty and instability, and of course Tony ended up departing in early July, leaving Danny McGuire in charge until the arrival of Willie Peters for next season.
In the circumstances, there have been some decent performances and good wins. 7/10.
Like that of his old club Hull, Lee Radford’s first season at Castleford has, perhaps understandably given the length of time Daryl Powell was at the helm, been a bit up and down, although nothing like as worrying as that of Warrington.
Radders took some time to get things moving, but has conjured some good moments, such as two wins over both Hull (which he will have enjoyed) and Catalans and beating St Helens, although there have also been some blow-out losses.
Overall, it’s been quite encouraging, but more consistency is a must. 6/10.
SALFORD RED DEVILS
Simply outstanding! Paul Rowley has done a terrific job to get Salford into the play-offs, especially given where they were last year and the way they’ve done it.
The recent 50-10 win at Castleford summed them up – hard work in defence, flair and fluidity in attack and a bunch of players who look like they’re enjoying themselves.
Paul should be a contender for Coach of the Year and the inspirational Brodie Croft for Man of Steel, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Red Devils do next. 8/10.
It’s been a tale of two coaches, posing an interesting question – why did the players perform for Rohan Smith and not his predecessor Richard Agar, under whom they got to within one win of the Grand Final last season?
Leeds might have finally found some form to haul themselves into the play-offs, but let’s be honest – mid-table isn’t good enough for a club of the Rhinos’ standing, and Rohan needs to build on the progress made this year.
There can be no beating about the bush – Leeds must do better in 2023. 5/10.
It’s sometimes hard to know which version will turn up – last season’s League Leaders’ Shield winners and Grand Finalists or an imitation of the team who pushed St Helens all the way at Old Trafford.
But while they haven’t been as dominant at home as might have been expected, the key things is that Steve McNamara’s men have won enough games to make the play-offs, and with last year’s experience, they will be a real threat.
Overall, I think Steve will be reasonably content ahead of an eliminator in Perpignan. 7/10.
We’ve heard about them a lot, and to be fair to Ian Watson, while it might not always have been vintage Rugby League, the claret and gold have been solid during his second season and come up with their fair share of victories.
Watto has mixed some newer talent with the Huddersfield old guard and having talked about them being a top-four club when he arrived from Salford, he has made them just that.
They have already been to the Challenge Cup Final – could there be a trip to Old Trafford too? 8/10.
I’m certainly no fan of Wigan, and I never held back in my criticism of the sleep-inducing style of play the Cherry and Whites came up with under Shaun Wane and Adrian Lam, so it’s only right I give praise where it’s due.
Well done to Matt Peet, Lee Briers and Sean O’Loughlin for producing such a successful and attractive team, who have been great to watch.
The Warriors already have the Challenge Cup in the cabinet, and I reckon they will bring the Super League title to the DW Stadium. 10/10.
The League Leaders’ Shield has been secured – now Saints will try to mark the end of Kristian Woolf’s Super League stay with a third straight Grand Final success under his command, and an unprecedented (at least during summer rugby) fourth title in a row for the club.
Will they succeed? The table doesn’t lie, and they have a star-studded side and more wins than anyone else.
But I still don’t like the almost-arrogant way they think they can turn the tap on and off, and their fire might yet be dampened. 8/10.
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