Every day until Super League returns to our Sky Sports screens on Thursday night, Barrie McDermott, Phil Clarke and Terry O’Connor will cast their eyes over each club gearing up for the new campaign.
On Saturday, the boys took a look at Widnes and Catalans Dragons, who face off on Sunday. While Sunday’s offering was Hull KR and Wakefield, who meet on Friday.
Next up, our experts run the rule over Salford and Wigan, who also clash on Friday evening…
Terry: Tough year ahead for the Warriors. Finishing sixth last season – their lowest placing in nine years – wasn’t good enough. They ended the regular season poorly, when they were embarrassed at Wakefield – and Shaun Wane will carry that anger into Super League XXIII. They’ve got brute force, but need more flair – there’s pressure on the likes of Sam Tomkins, Thomas Leuluai and Sean O’Loughlin.
Barrie: Wigan have lost a linchpin in Michael McIlorum. Thomas Leuluai is an accomplished hooker, and the talk is that Sam Powell will alternate between nine and seven. George Williams will again be the go-to man, on that left edge; there’ll also be added responsibility for Sam Tomkins in attack, where he has all the organisational and communication skills.
Phil: Like the Wolves, they under-performed last year. They were dull to watch and have made some changes. With the squad of players they have, anything other than a top-three finish will be seen as a failure.
Terry: They did a remarkable job in the opening 23 rounds last year – but fell away, winning only one of their last 10 games. With a new ownership group, there’ll be pressure off the field – and they’ve lost several of last year’s big names.
Barrie: With so much talk about events off the field, Salford have focused on their pre-season plans. Experienced Mark Flanagan is one of four captains that will share the leadership of Ian Watson’s side who went largely under the radar 12 months ago – but a tough campaign awaits a side which flew out of the blocks in 2017.
Phil: It seems as though their bubble burst after Round 23 last year and I’m not sure that they have recovered yet. However, I’m fascinated to see how they go, and will be amazed if they finish above 10th.
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