Zak Hardaker has picked out underdogs Wakefield as the Super League surprise package for 2020.
Chris Chester’s outfit finished 10th last season and – with a handful of low-key recruits this winter – Super League sponsors Betfred have priced Wakefield as 10th favourite to win the Grand Final, at 50/1.
But Hardaker has cast his eyes over all the clubs’ rosters and believes Trinity have a squad capable of muscling into the play-offs picture.
“When I looked at the squads, one that popped out to me was Wakefield,” he said.
“If you look at their starting 17 it’s potentially a top five team. I even read down to about their 25th or 26th man and they were all first-team players at some point last year.
“So they’ve got a really good squad.
“Last year it just didn’t happen for them for whatever reason.”
Joe Westerman (Hull FC), Ryan Atkins (Warrington) and Josh Wood (Salford) are among Wakefield’s signings.
Wigan are 3/1 second-favourites behind champions St Helens, with Warrington, Hull FC and Leeds close behind.
Catalans have invested in Aussie James Maloney and ex-Warrior Joel Tomkins, Salford have retained many of the players which helped them to a Grand Final last season, Huddersfield have used the marquee allowance to sign Aidan Sezer and, of course, Super League newcomers Toronto Wolfpack have signed Kiwi superstar Sonny Bill Williams.
And with less than four weeks until the new campaign starts, Hardaker believes it has the makings of an exciting season.
“I think last year was probably one of the best years for the neutral for how tight it was week in and week out and I think this one will be even better,” he said.
“I could go through every squad and look at players who’ve been signed.Hull have bought big so they’re going to be a big set, I’m expecting big things from them.
“I’m really confident of us doing well, Saints have probably been the best team for the last two years, Gareth Widdop will be great for Warrington.
“Daryl Powell always gets the best out of his players and in Danny Richardson I think Cas have a Luke Gale-type of player, and Jacob Trueman is just a special player as well.
“I don’t even think you could pick two or three teams that are going to finish in the top five right now, think there could be at least eight of nine that you could definitely put money on to finish in the top five.”