SHAUN Wane is braced for an even tighter Super League competition this year.
He believes a combination of learning from last year’s revamped structure – and some shrewd recruiting – will blow open the race for places in the top-four.
We’re very happy with what we’re doing and where we’re atShaun Wane
Last year Leeds, Wigan, St Helens and Huddersfield secured their spots in the slimmed-down play-offs with two rounds to spare. But Wane reckons the big-money signings made by Warrington, Catalans and Hull FC will make them serious threats in 2016 and, with none of the big guns showing significant signs of weakening, expects a fiercer battle.
“I don’t think it will be as clear this year. I think it’ll be tighter,” he said.
“You look at who Hull have bought, they have some top players there.
“Leeds have bought well again, they’ll be more consistent, Saints have bought well, Warrington have spent money, and Catalans have assembled an impressive squad.”
He also made it clear after Sunday’s 32-16 friendly loss at Salford that they may surprise a few people this season.
Wigan have been installed as the pre-season favourites to top this forthcoming Super League ladder. They are also the bookies’ 3/1 tip to win the Grand Final.
“We’re very happy with what we’re doing and where we’re at,” said Wane, who doesn’t see a clear favourite.
“But it’s a challenge for everyone to get that good start.” Fans will get an early look at Catalans’ credentials when the French side arrive at the DW Stadium on February 5 for Wigan’s Super League opener.
“I would say there isn’t a favourite... but the key ones for me are Catalans and Saints,” added Wane.
“Todd Carney is still there and with a pre-season under his belt he’ll go from strength to strength, and of course they’ve signed Paddy (Pat Richards), so every try they score is six points.
“They’re going to be really tough, especially at home.”