LAST week PHIL WILKINSON highlighted five areas Super League needs to fix in 2015. But as the countdown to the new campaign continues, here he picks out five reasons to be looking forward to the new season...
WIGAN didn’t just surrender both of their trophies last year – they let their Grand Final silverware go to St Helens.
And a distinctly average St Helens side at that (they had no players in England’s Four Nations squad. Wigan had seven).
To say the Warriors are still hurting would be an understatement.
The derbies should be explosive – especially with Saints now coached by former heroes Keiron Cunningham and his assistant Sean Long.
WORLD CLUB SERIES
LET’S get it out the way first – it is not perfect.
It should involve the top three from Super League and the NRL. Instead, Warrington (5th), Brisbane (8th) and St George Illawarra (11th) are involved so, in effect, it is ‘the top three... who wanted to take part!’.
But it is a step in the right direction, and if it successful the concept will hopefully see it grow.
With Australia unwilling to face England until the end of 2016, this gives fans a chance to see some of the NRL’s finest on these shores.
It’s been branded the ‘Ryder Cup of rugby league’ – but will rival fans cheer for Wigan? And will Wigan fans want St Helens to beat Souths?
BREAKING NEW GROUND
There’s a Magic Weekend in Newcastle and plans for a Test match at the Olympic Stadium – adding some much-welcomed variety to the calendar.
BREAKING MORE NEW GROUND
The radical new structure is the biggest shake-up to Super League in years.
Flawed? Yes. Complicated? Yes – particularly for passive fans. And the fact the last seven fixtures remain a mystery until July is frustrating.
But it should make the season more interesting.
And the decision to move to a top-four play-offs – rather than a top-eight – will ramp up interest throughout the long summer months.
Consider the strength of Wigan, St Helens, Leeds, Warrington, Catalans, Huddersfield and – to a lesser extent – Salford, Hull FC and Castleford, and some good teams will miss out on the Grand Final party.
Many stars have moved within Super League circles, and Wigan fans will be keen to see if Taulima Tautai provides the punch he is expected.
Of the newcomers from Down Under, Warrington’s Ashton Sims looks promising... but Catalans boast the biggest names.
Willie Tonga, 31, played for Australia 12 times, while stand-off Todd Carney only left the NRL because he had to – after a picture of him pretending to urinate in his mouth was made public. It will be Super League’s gain – even if the controversy over his arrival leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.