Super League XXV begins on Thursday night as Wigan take on Warrington while the opening weekend also sees a repeat of last season’s Grand Final between St Helens and Salford Red Devils.
St Helens swept all before them last year, finishing 16 points clear of the pack during the regular season, eventually going on to beat Ian Watson’s men 23-6 in the Grand Final.
Although Justin Holbrook’s team proved to be a class apart in the league, they did come up short in the Challenge Cup Final when they were beaten by the Warrington Wolves at Wembley as they looked to complete a double.
Since then, Kristian Woolf has replaced Holbrook as head coach for 2020 after spending the past five seasons in charge of the Tongan national team, though it’s difficult to look past the Saints again this year who can be backed at 3.25* to retain their Super League crown.
Wigan finished second behind Saints during the regular season, although 11 defeats in 29 games was ultimately their downfall with the Warriors blowing two chances to reach the Grand Final in the play-offs, so will be hoping to improve on that disappointment this time around.
Head coach Adrian Lam has been busy improving his squad this winter, with the signing of Jackson Hastings from Salford along with Mitch Clark and George Burgess as they look to close the gap on The Saints and are 3.75* second favourites to win the Grand Final.
Warrington Wolves finished fourth last season as well as winning the Challenge Cup final at Wembley and with Gareth Widdop, Blake Austin and Anthony Gelling coming into the side will be hoping they can end their 65-year wait for a title.
Newcomers Toronto Wolfpack – complete with record signing Sonny Bill Williams – open against Castleford as part of a double-header at Headingley as the Canadian side enjoy their first taste of top-flight rugby as a professional club, following promotion from the Championship in 2019.
The unavailability of their Lamport Stadium and poor winter weather during the early weeks of the season, mean Toronto will not play in their home city before facing Hull FC on 18 April.
Hull FC, who travel to Leeds Rhinos on Sunday, finished sixth last season and will be looking to build on that performance with the return of Mahe Fonua giving them every chance of doing just that.
Catalans Dragons , Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity look the most likely to fill the places in the middle of the table while Hull KR and Huddersfield Giants narrowly avoided bottom spot last season and it’s difficult to see the same pair avoiding a relegation dog fight again in 2020.
Opening round fixtures
Thursday, 30 January
Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves (19:45)
Friday, 31 January
St Helens v Salford Red Devils (19:45)
Hull KR v Wakefield Trinity (19:45)
Saturday, 1 February
Catalans Dragons v Huddersfield Giants (18:00)
Sunday, 2 February
Toronto Wolfpack v Castleford Tigers (14:30)
Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC (16:45)
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