What five Championship head coaches had to say on potential Super League promotion

THE big prize of Super League promotion is well and truly up for grabs for a plethora of Championship sides in 2023.

Following a season in which the newly-rebranded Leigh Leopards destroyed all their opponents, the second tier is now a much more level-playing field.

The likes of Featherstone Rovers, Toulouse Olympique, Bradford Bulls, Keighley Cougars, York Knights and Widnes Vikings will all be vying for those play-off spots with the aim of eventually reaching Super League.

But, Rovers boss Sean Long is not discussing promotion.

“I would say that promotion’s everyones goal. There are all these teams here now, you’ve got Toulouse, Keighley, Bradford, Halifax, Newcastle, Widnes – I don’t want to miss anyone out,” Long told League Express.

“Everyone turns up expecting to get promoted, every club has improved, everyone has made signings and everyone turns out in their first game thinking they can win it.”

For relegated side Toulouse Olympique, head coach Sylvain Houles explained the difference in his squad from just two years ago.

“There are teams who have progressed. On paper, when I look at our squad from 2020/21 we had good experience and players had been a part of our team for a long time,” Houles said.

“For me now, I am starting from scratch, but having also played Super League last year and knowing what is needed, it is up to us.

“There are perhaps six teams on a good level but there is not one team like Leigh or Toronto.”

Bradford Bulls boss Mark Dunning outlined that the play-offs is the minimum target for the West Yorkshire club in 2023.

“Everything is realistic and it’s so competitive. I look around the squads of teams in the league, it will be a competitive division but play-offs is the minimum for us and that’s what we are aiming for,” Dunning told League Express.

“We’ve got some internal goals that we will keep inside. We are challenging the players in daring to dream.”

York Knights boss Andrew Henderson isn’t ruling anything out for 2023, but what is obvious from a York point of view is the desire to be a Super League side very much in the near future.

“Who knows? I’m not going to put any sort of targets or goals out there saying ‘we’re going for this and going for that’,” Henderson told League Express

“The key messages I’ve been driving within my playing group and what I’m expecting from them to deliver.

“Hopefully we will see over the course of the season what will be will be, but I do know that the long-term aspiration of the owner is to Super League.

“We’ve got a plan and we’ve got to keep working on that plan to make that happen, but when that happens I don’t know.

Widnes Vikings boss John Kear was similarly as unsure about potentially targeting promotion in 2023.

“I don’t know at this moment in time, what you’ve got to do is see how teams start the season,” Kear told League Express.

“There are a lot of imponderables in the Championship this season. There isn’t a team like Leigh or Toronto who are absolutely going to whack people on a regular basis.

“I think it’s a lot more open and until a quarter of the way into the season we will all be feeling our way and finding our feet and only then will we be able to look at promotion favourites.”