Super League XXVIII Early Predictions See St Helens as the Favourites Again

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Super League XXVII ended with what is now the most familiar sight for rugby league fans: St Helens raising the trophy at the end of the Grand Final. Having topped the table with 42 points and only six losses, they dispatched the Salford Red Devils 19-12 in the semi-finals, and then the Leeds Rhinos 24-12 to land a resounding Grand Final victory.

It was the fourth win in a row for the Saints and the ninth in the history of the Super League Grand Final – the most of any team in its history. Of course, St Helens have ten titles in total, with the 1996 triumph decided by league leadership. Now, as can be expected after an offseason of relatively minimal change, St Helens are gunning for yet another title.

Saints in a commanding position

Anyone looking to place a rugby league bet on the outright markets of the 2023 Super League will struggle to look much further down than St Helens at 2/1 to win the Grand Final. It’s a testament to the team’s sound offseason work and the dominance of the team over the last half-decade. However, at 2/1, they’re not as far ahead as some would expect – after all, the Saints did lose six games in 2022.

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Close behind at 7/2, the Wigan Warriors are expected to mount the toughest challenge to St Helens. Losing the likes of Jack and Jake Bibby with Sam Halsall to Huddersfield, as well as Ollie Partington to Salford and Thomas Leuluai to retirement, will lead to a shakeup, and the Warriors hope that Jake Wardle and Toby King will be able to bridge the gap and help the Warriors come back stronger.

Following up on St Helens and Wigan, but quite far out as dark horses, are the finalists of 2022, Leeds, at 15/2, as well as the Catalans Dragons. The Warrington Wolves aren’t too far back at 8/1, especially when you consider the team’s 11th-place finish with nine wins and 18 losses last season. Coming into last season, big things were expected under new coach Daryl Powell, and with a slew of signings, a new bar has been set.

St Helens to return with a new X-factor

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When the opening round of the Super League commences on 16 February, St Helens will be hoping to have a new loanee (with an option to buy) at the team’s disposal. Adding some firepower going forward, the Saints secured the signature of Tee Ritson from Championship side Barrow in November. Last season, Ritson put up a mighty haul of 33 tries in 31 games. He’s expected to challenge for a spot on either wing, following the departure of Regan Grace.

Last season, it was St Helens’ stout defensive work that did much of the heavy lifting to deliver yet another Grand Final. Their 374 points against marked more than 100 fewer points than the next closest team, Wigan. While the 674 points for certainly wasn’t quaint, it ranked the Saints third, behind Wigan and Salford. So, adding a potential breakout star down the wing might just help to up the offensive output.

The oddsmakers have every reason to make St Helens their pick even this far out from the state of Super League XXVIII, but they’re not certain enough to count out their run coming to an end.

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