It’s been a tough 2015 for us Rugby League fans. Not only did we have to endure a whole summer of kick ‘n’ clap taking centre stage, but also the ridicule and fall from grace of our beloved Slammin’ Sam Burgess in the 15-man-code. Yep, Dewsbury’s answer to David Beckham didn’t quite live up to expectation, and we were forced to grit our teeth in the pub as a bloke decked in plum chinos and a gilet, probably called Hugo or Jonty, slates the big man’s defensive position at a ‘ruck’ or ‘maul’.
Whatever one of those is.
But fear not followers of the The Great Game, 2016 Super League is out from the cold and here to warm you up like a meat pie, doused in gravy, in a bap.
And what a tasty serving to start on Thursday. Treble winners Leeds Rhinos play last year’s underachievers Warrington in the opener, and it’s a difficult one to call. Leeds lost two of their biggest names in 2015 in club captain Jamie Peacock and SPOTY runner-up and all-round good-egg ‘Sir Kev’ Sinfield. It’ll be a difficult transition this year for the Champs, that’s for sure. For Warrington, well as always they’ve recruited really well, and it’s ‘probably gonna be their year’ (ahem). Most notable additions include Kurt Gidley joining from the NRL to boost an already star-studded squad.
Neither side will want to start off with a loss so expect a tight game up at Headingley, but the Wolves may just shade it after reports suggesting a strong preseason for the Wolfpack. With Leeds still coming to terms with the loss of their big names, take Warrington to win by 1-10 points at .
From a try scoring perspective, Big Ben Westwood has crossed the line 13 times against Leeds, a remarkable record for a forward, so back him at to be an anytime tryscorer. (Sidenote: has anyone ever seen Keith Lemon and Ben Westwood in the same room together?)
Kallum Watkins also loves a try or two in this fixture and he’s to score first in the game. Well worth a nibble.
In the other live Sky game, Wigan Warriors take on Catalans Dragons at the DW. Wigan are generally slow starters early doors, and the sounds coming out of the Warriors’ camp in pre-season point towards a similar pattern in 2016.
Wigan may not be in full force first game back so take the Catalans to cover the +10 handicap at . Can the Dragons finally get it together on a cold night in Wigan and bag 2 points? They’re a tempting to win the game outright.
For those of you looking for a season outright bet, Paddy Power have a bounty of special markets. Here are three of the best:
- Castleford Tigers to improve again and sneak a top 4 finish at
- Tom Briscoe to be Top Leeds Rhinos Tryscorer at
- The colossus that is Alex Walmsley to be Man of Steel at a huge .
Welcome back Super League. We’ve missed you, buddy.