There are big expectations at the KC and rightly so. The recruitment of Gareth Ellis is one to savour; the passionate black and white fans will love him. Daniel Holdsworth is another superb acquisition who will offer genuine creative threat. Joe Westerman seemed to be getting used to his role towards the back end of last season and he could be the one to benefit the most. There were signs in some games last year - even in the playoffs at Warrington - of the powerhouse they could become. I would imagine Peter Gentle will be licking his lips at the prospect. Aim: To make the top four with a view to then going on and winning the comp, if the top troops are fit and healthy.
Huddersfield Forty-20 says:
It’s been quiet at Craven Park and losing Scott Taylor, Blake Green and Ben Galea is a blow, along with the likes of Scott Murrell. Travis Burns, when his ban is served, will be a very decent addition - another I tried to get to North Wales, but he gave back word and chose Penrith instead. He’s not overly flamboyant, but he’s tough, ideally suited for Super League and is will be very popular. Rovers are always tricky in the intimidating home atmosphere, but the worry is the fragility of a young squad that lacks depth. It’s always good to invest in the future, but the concern could be if the trap door of promotion and relegation comes back soon. That requires a different mindset. Aim: To keep all the first 17 out on the field as often as possible and stay close to the coat tails of Hull.
Castleford Forty-20 says:
Bradford Forty-20 says:
The Bulls have survived the toughest of years and that will stand the organisation in good stead. There is a buzz returning to place and expectations are more realistic about what can be achieved with a skinny squad. It’s disappointing that they lost Craig Kopczak in the fall-out, he was playing very well. But they kept Jon Bateman, although there is a lot of pressure on him. They’ve two good rakes, Luke Gale who committed himself to the cause and a fine full-back in Brett Kearney, so the nucleus is okay. Aim: To capitalise on the feelgood factor, the only way is up. That might mean play-offs.
There are a few question marks with a new regime and a fair amount of comings and goings in what, elsewhere, has been a relatively quiet off-season. It’s not quite a new beginning, but they will need to get big Ukuma Ta’ai’s visa issued sorted as soon as possible to get everyone bedded and buying in. The departure of Kevin Brown may see them still in the market for a half, but Danny Brough, above, won’t mind being the go-to man, he revels in that. They hit a downward spiral in 2012 with the controversy around Nathan going and if the players were picking the team then, now they need to show greater mental toughness. No matter what it looks like, just go out there and get the job done. Aim: Keep Stuart Fielden fit and finish strong; to keep going for longer.
Wakefield Forty-20 says:
They finished strongly and that’s the way they’ll want to start. There were some really good signs in their run to the play-offs as their experienced squad came together after the upheavals. Jason Poore is a very good capture, a genuine pack leader and if everyone is on deck they can overturn any of the top clubs. With the likes of Tim Smith, Paul Aiton and Ali Lauitiiti a year into their surroundings, they’re a threat. They play a decent brand of rugby too, in the right spirit, they could be top six. Aim: With a fair wind and a decent draw, a genuine threat in the Cup. Last year’s virtual knock-out experience will stand them in good stead come the end of the season.
They’ve gone for experience with the likes of Lee Gilmour, Jake Webster, Weller Hauraki and Keith Mason and that’s a smart move. They tried to put in building blocks around the kids last season, but that overburdened them week-in, week-out. There should be a respite this year and greater strike threat down the left, but the enigma remains Rangi Chase. So much of what they are capable of revolves around him. Aim: To manage their squad so that it doesn’t become threadbare and keep the gamebreakers out on the paddock.
Re-boot: New Salford signing Andrew Dixon
It’s just been a nightmare period and I feel desperately sorry for Phil Veivers, who has had the worst preparation possible. I hope there’s a knight in shining armour on the horizon because there is no more important strategic venue than the Salford/Manchester area. The club needs rebooting and in losing Joel Moon and Daniel Holdsworth are starting without two of their very best. Aim: To survive and finish the season although, knowing Sean Long, they’ll want to win some games on the back of the adversity.
It was so disappointing in 2012 that, having spent up to the cap, they didn’t start delivering until Tony Rea returned and the rot was stopped. They’ve been around a long time and they have several internationals and experienced hands in the ranks now. They are no longer a special case and it’s about time long-term investor David Hughes started seeing a return, that’s their bottom line. They could be the quiet achievers. Aim: To replicate the way they ended last season from the get-go.
The Vikings have been a bit under the radar, but they got better as the season went on last time and will be quietly optimistic among the predictions of doom and gloom after finishing last in 2012 on their re-introduction. Rhys Hanbury showed how important he is to them and it’s unfortunate that their star signing, Kevin Brown, has missed the preseason because of injury. Nothing is new this year, so that will help. Aim: To win a few more games and edge nearer to the eight.
January 2013 Forty-20 13