The Super League is back for another exciting season of rip-roaring rugby action, live on Sky Sports and Channel 4. Here’s our team-by-team preview
By Chris Miller, Feature Writer
Rugby league has always been a fast-paced and thrilling spectacle, and when the sport’s World Cups – men’s, women’s and wheelchair – were held in England in 2022, the action was enjoyed by a wider British audience than ever before. And there’s good news: the Super League starts again this week, bringing top-class rugby to your screens again!
The stars of England’s World Cup squad can be seen in the Super League, including Tommy Makinson of St Helens, Salford’s Marc Sneyd and Sam Tomkins of Catalans Dragons. You can also watch some of the heroes of world rugby, such as Fiji’s Kevin Naiqama and Tonga’s Sio Siua Taukeiaho.
St Helens have been the dominant team in the past few years, winning every Grand Final since 2019, but a few teams look well positioned to challenge their pre-eminence this season. With the Saints absent from the first round as they play NRL champions Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge, the likes of Leeds and Wigan will be keen to put down a marker with big victories. Newly promoted Leigh Leopards (previously known as Centurions), meanwhile, will be aiming to secure their place in the Super League.
Sky Sports will be showing a whopping 66 live games over the season and there are 10 live games on Channel 4 too, so there’s plenty of action for everyone to enjoy – including the Magic Weekend on 3-4 June, when all games come live from St James’ Park in Newcastle. Here we look ahead to the 2023 season to see what’s in store.
And remember you can follow all the live Super League action wherever you are in the UK, as long as there’s WiFi, 3G or 4G, thanks to Virgin TV Go. Simply download the free app, which is free to all Virgin TV customers and is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows 10 and PC/Mac.
Which Super League games are on TV this week?
Warrington Wolves v Leeds Rhinos
Thursday 16 February, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Leigh Leopards v Salford Red Devils
Friday 17 February, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
World Club Challenge: Penrith Panthers v St Helens
Saturday 18 February, 6.45am, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108) + 7am, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Hull Kingston Rovers v Wigan Warriors
Saturday 18 February, 12.30pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)
Scroll down for more TV fixtures…
Last season: 1st, Grand Final winners
Star player: Tommy Makinson, who’s starting his 13th season at Saints. The winger has scored well over 1,000 points in his career, with 216 last year including 22 tries.
The coach: Kristian Woolf has headed back to Australia after three consecutive Grand Final wins; he’s been replaced by club legend Paul Wellens, who won everything there was to win during a long career at his home-town club.
Key signings: Why mess with perfection? Wellens has kept faith with his squad of champions.
A good season would be… making it five in a row. St Helens have won every Grand Final since 2019. They’re in the groove.
Last season: 2nd, play-off semi-finalists
Star player: Bevan French, who missed the first six games last season but still ended up topping the try-scoring charts with 31.
The coach: Matt Peet transformed Wigan’s fortunes in 2022 when they had the highest average match score (having had the lowest in 2021). They also won the Challenge Cup, beating Huddersfield at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Key signings: Jake Wardle is the Warriors’ main acquisition, and great things are expected after his electrifying loan spell at Warrington when he scored nine tries in 11 games.
A good season would be… reaching the Grand Final.
Last season: 3rd, knocked out in play-off eliminator
Star player: Jake Connor returns to the Giants after six years at Hull FC, now established as an England international and having led the league in try assists last season. Able to play any position among the backs, he brings versatility and strength that could make a real difference.
The coach: Former Wales international Ian Watson took Huddersfield from ninth in his first season to third last year.
Key signings: Watson has brought in experience, with Connor joined by New Zealander Esan Marsters and Fiji’s Kein Naiqama, both of whom arrive from Australia’s NRL. Young English star Harry Rushton has also left Australia for the John Smith’s Stadium.
A good season would be… going further in the play-offs.
Last season: 4th, knocked out in play-off eliminator
Star player: Arthur Mourgue is one of the most exciting young stars of French rugby at 23 and having filled in across a number of positions last year, he’ll be looking to make the half-back spot his own.
The coach: Steve McNamara, who led the Dragons to the top of the table and the Grand Final two years ago. But after a disappointing end to 2022, he’s been ruthless in clearing out those surplus to requirements, and plans to focus on bringing French talent through.
Key signings: Siosiua Taukeiaho arrives from the NRL’s Sydney Roosters and will be crucial to a new-look front row, while prop Romain Navarette joins from Toulouse.
A good season would be… staying in the play-off picture, but it could be a tough task for a team in transition.
Last season: 5th, Grand Final runners-up
Star player: Loose forward Cameron Smith emerged as a major force last year and was rewarded with a long-term contract – he’s surely a future England star.
The coach: Rohan Smith was named Coach of the Year for the way he turned the Rhinos’ 2022 season around following a mediocre start. They didn’t quite have enough to overcome St Helens in the Grand Final, but Smith and his team are definitely on the up.
Key signings: A pair of top props – Leeds raided relegated Toulouse for one of their best young talents in Justin Sangaré, and recruited Samoa’s Sam Lisone from Gold Coast Titans to bring even more power to their pack.
A good season would be… winning their first Grand Final since 2017.
Salford Red Devils
Last season: 6th, play-off semi-finalists
Star player: Brodie Croft. The half-back and reigning Man of Steel had a phenomenal 2022, arriving from Brisbane to drive the Red Devils into the play-offs.
The coach: Paul Rowley took over at the start of the 2022 season after Salford only just avoided finishing bottom in 2021. They won just three of their first 10 games but a late surge took them into the top six and secured Rowley’s position.
Key signings: Oliver Partington didn’t have the best time at Wigan but the forward’s ball-playing qualities could make him the perfect signing for Salford, who have also brought in Adam Sidlow and Sam Stone from promoted Leigh.
A good season would be… challenging for the title again, as they did in 2019.
Last season: 7th
Star player: Paul McShane hasn’t hit the heights again since his Man of Steel-winning season in 2020, but the England man has plenty left to offer.
The coach: Lee Radford led the Tigers to the brink of the play-offs last season but a late-summer slump saw them lose five of their last seven games and miss out by one place.
Key signings: After eight seasons at Wakefield, Australian scrum-half Jacob Miller has arrived to bring skill, experience and leadership to the team. Former Warrington man Gareth Widdop will be alongside him.
A good season would be… finding that elusive consistency and making the top six.
Hull Kingston Rovers
Last season: 8th
Star player: Jordan Abdull was shortlisted for the Man of Steel award in 2021, so missing almost the entire 2022 season with injury was devastating for both him and Rovers. He’s back and raring to go.
The coach: Newly appointed Willie Peters comes with bags of NRL coaching experience, although this is the Australian’s first head coach role.
Key signings: Three players have arrived from the NRL, including powerful forwards Sauaso Sue and Rhys Kennedy.
A good season would be… an inspiring return from Abdull that pushes them up the Super League table.
Last season: 9th
Star player: The veteran back Carlos Tuimavave is going into his eighth season in west Hull – his influence was sorely missed when he was injured last year. He’s been named captain for the new campaign.
The coach: The hugely experienced Tony Smith, who first coached in the Super League in 2001, has swapped one Hull club for the other having left Hull KR last year.
Key signings: Aussie full-back Tex Hoy has arrived from Newcastle Knights, bringing his exciting and effective running game with him – he ran over 100 metres per game on average in the last NRL season.
A good season would be… a credible play-off push.
Last season: 10th
Star player: Samoan half-back Mason Lino, who has some big shoes to fill following Jacob Miller’s departure.
The coach: Willie Poching left in the close season to be replaced by his former assistant Mark Applegarth – who’s highly regarded, but inexperienced.
Key signings: Trinity have brought in 33-year-old former Kiwi international Kevin Proctor to add nous to their forward pack, as well as Morgan Smith, who was one of the Championship’s top performers last year with 22 tries for Featherstone.
A good season would be… avoiding relegation, but it’s going to be tough.
Last season: 11th
Star player: Half-back George Williams was the bright spot in a disappointing 2022 season for the Wolves, as well as being arguably England’s best performer at the World Cup.
The coach: Daryl Powell oversaw one of Warrington’s worst seasons, flirting alarmingly with relegation – topping the league and getting to the Grand Final in 2016 seems a long time ago now.
Key signings: Wholesale squad changes saw Sam Kasiano, Gil Dudson and Josh Drinkwater arrive from Catalans alongside a clutch of other new arrivals. Drinkwater’s presence in the squad should take some pressure off Williams.
A good season would be… well, from here, surely the only way is up.
Last season: 1st, Championship
Star player: Edwin Ipape absolutely tore up the Championship in 2022, with lightning speed and fearsome strength that gained him 22 tries. He’s already been tipped to win the Super League’s Man of Steel award this year.
The coach: Former Wigan boss Adrian Lam has plenty of experience at this level and has recruited shrewdly.
Key signings: Five players have arrived from Warrington, including former Wolves captain Jack Hughes, although the most eye-catching signing is that of Samoa international Ricky Leutele. More controversially Leigh signed Zak Hardaker, who left Wigan to return to Yorkshire on the supposed grounds of homesickness. Someone buy him a map.
A good season would be… consolidating their Super League status.
Which Super League games are coming up on TV?
Salford Red Devils v Hull Kingston Rovers
Thursday 23 February, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC
Friday 24 February, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Castleford Tigers v St Helens
Sunday 26 February, 12.30pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)
Warrington Wolves v Salford Red Devils
Thursday 2 March, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
St Helens v Leeds Rhinos
Friday 3 March, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Huddersfield Giants v Castleford Tigers
Friday 10 March, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos
Thursday 16 March, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
St Helens v Hull FC
Friday 17 March, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Huddersfield Giants v St Helens
Thursday 23 March, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Wakefield Trinity v Hull Kingston Rovers
Friday 24 March, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Leeds Rhinos v Catalans Dragons
Saturday 25 March, 12.30pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)
Leigh Leopards v Wigan Warriors
Thursday 30 March, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Hull Kingston Rovers v Leeds Rhinos
Friday 31 March, 7.30pm, Sky Sports Arena/HD (CH 518/508)
Warrington Wolves v Hull FC
Sunday 1 April, 12.30pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)
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