The Garry Schofield Column: My predictions for Super League top three and 2023 champions

REGULAR readers of this column will know I’ve tipped Wakefield to finish bottom of Super League – and fair play to those loyal Trinity fans who have told me I’m off target and underestimating the ability of new coach Mark Applegarth and his sidekick James Ford – and the Leopards of Leigh to chase down enough points to escape an immediate return to the Championship by finishing eleventh.

I’ve got Hull KR down for tenth, Catalans Dragons to find it far tougher going than in recent seasons, ending up ninth, Hull FC eighth in a transitional year under Tony Smith, and Castleford seventh.

I’ve said Leeds, in sixth, Salford (fifth) and Huddersfield (fourth) will take the bottom three play-off positions.

Now for my top-three tips, in reverse order…


I realise some people may suggest I’m still feeling the effects of the festive alcohol, but I believe Daryl Powell’s men will shake off any hangover from what was a dismal 2022 campaign and make a much better fist of it this time around.

If they don’t, Daryl will be in deep trouble, but then a coach as experienced as he is knows that.

Powelly won’t have been at all happy with finishing second-bottom last year, but he will have learned some very useful lessons – and worked out which of the inherited players he wants to have in his squad and those he maybe thought were too much in the comfort zone and who he wanted to move on.

The process actually began while things were going wrong, with the addition of fullback Matt Dufty and prop Thomas Mikaele from the NRL.

The Wolves have again hunted Down Under to sign Josh McGuire from St George Illawarra and Paul Vaughan from Canterbury Bulldogs – both of whom have played for Australia – while also bringing in Catalans frontrowers Gil Dudson and Sam Kasiano.

That’s some serious clout, and having a more powerful pack will help halfback George Williams, who has a massive role to play.

He’s one of the best operators in Super League, but didn’t have the best of seasons at club level last time around.

I’m hoping his performances for England at the World Cup will have provided a pick-me-up and that he’ll form a potent partnership with Josh Drinkwater, who has come in from Catalans in place of Castleford-bound Gareth Widdop.

I have to admit I wasn’t totally taken with the signing of Drinkwater, but having thought about it, I see that he will take some pressure off George, and he will also bring a decent kicking game.

If those two can thrive off the platform laid by a stronger set of forwards and create things for some pacy backs, Warrington will be be in a far better position.

I don’t think they are yet capable of ending that long wait for a title triumph, but I do expect the Wolves to be far more competitive.


As I said several times last season, it’s tough for a Loiner to heap praise on the Cherry and Whites, but I have to admire Wigan for spotting the head-coaching potential in Matty Peet and having the confidence to give him one of the game’s toughest gigs.

Wigan were a revelation in 2022, far more entertaining than in days of old but still gritty and resilient like those sides who brought success, as their dramatic late win over Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup Final illustrated.

The one worry is the departure of one of Matty’s trusted assistants, Lee Briers, to Brisbane Broncos, and the fact that a top-level Australian club want an Englishman on their staff speaks volumes about his ability and the impression he has made.

But Sean O’Loughlin, a talented bloke who knows Wigan inside out, and now Tommy Leuluai, are backing up Matty, and I think he will continue to take Wigan forward playing bright and positive Rugby League.

Tommy has blown the final whistle on his playing career, and he will be missed in that capacity, but it will give additional responsibility to one of my favourite young players, Harry Smith, and I reckon he will continue to develop his game, even without the expert guidance of Lee.

And let’s not forget Wigan have two of the most explosive and exciting talents in Super League in Jai Field and Bevan French, who will continue to excite us – and also score tries.


A new coach perhaps, but Paul Wellens’ Saints will still be the team to beat as they set their sights on a fifth straight Grand Final triumph – and just what an amazing achievement that would be.

Winning is in Wellens’ DNA, although some supporters will remember how things went wrong under another popular, and very talented, former player Keiron Cunningham.

Saints’ style changed under Keiron, but I can’t see that happening with Paul, because he’s been part of the coaching staff for so long and will have had a big influence as an assistant coach to Justin Holbrook and Kristian Woolf.

I remember that when Woolfy revealed he would be leaving at the end of last season and when asked who should be his successor, replied that the club “won’t find anything better than what’s sitting in front of them”.

Saints are the most complete team in Super League. They have a number of great players, the best pack, the best halfback partnership in Jonny Lomax and Lewis Dodd (if only they’d been available to play for England at the World Cup) and some great finishers.

While they are the side everyone else wants to chase down, that won’t bother them, because they are used to it.

Nothing breeds success like success, and Saints have a squad packed with serial winners who look like they enjoy training as much as playing.