The 18th Man love to try and forecast the future and here are our predictions for the final league standings in both the Super 8s and Qualifiers. Obviously, if 2017 is anything to go by so far, then we’ll be completely wrong!
1.) Castleford Tigers:
Current – 1st
Prediction – 1st
The Tigers are already way out in front with a 10 point advantage over their nearest rivals Leeds. A LLS looks inevitable but there’s a case to be made that this may be their only silverware of the season. They’re evidently not missing Greg Eden either with Jy Hitchcox back in the team.
2.) Hull FC
Current – 3rd
Prediction – 2nd
Having had a fantastic win in the Challenge Cup last weekend, we feel Wembley is destined to galvanise the Airlie Birds’ domestic fortunes. Along with the timely return of Captain Gareth Ellis, they will right some of the wrongs from last season’s run-in.
3.) Leeds Rhinos
Current – 2nd
Prediction – 3rd
After exiting the Challenge Cup at the semi-final stage, you can’t help but feel that this could be a season too far for some of the Rhinos’ veteran’s. A rebuilding progress is underway as Danny McGuire and Rob Burrows make way for new faces and this may hinder them.
4.) St Helens
After a slow start to the campaign, Saints are playing into some good form and with just the league to focus on, they could be the surprise package in the Super 8s. Watch out for Mark Percival too, who has been Saints’ stand-out player in recent weeks.
5.) Wigan Warriors
Cream will rise to the top and Shaun Wane’s side are welcoming some key players back at the right time. Sam Tomkins seems to be rediscovering his old form as well as the return of Michael McIlorum from injury. A Top 4 position isn’t out of the question.
6.) Wakefield Trinity
Another appearance in the Super 8s for Trinity which in itself is an achievement. They’ll be looking to improve on last year’s 8th place. Expect a few upsets along the way.
7.) Salford Red Devils
Another team who were so close yet so far to an appearance at Wembley. Salford’s form has waned since the heady days of midseason. They’ve recruited in Manu Vatuvei and Tyrone McCarthy but that’s no guarantee for success and we sense they may have peaked.
8.) Huddersfield Giants
After a disastrous start to their campaign, Coach Rick Stone will be more than happy with a place in the Super 8s, as compared to last season. If Jake Mamo returns to fitness in the imminent future, he could make the difference as to the Giants’ final league position.
1.) Warrington Wolves
After an indifferent season so far, it’s hard to look much further than the Wolves comfortably topping the Qualifiers table. They should have too much quality for their opponents and old heads like Kurt Gidley and Ben Westwood should steady the ship.
2.) Hull KR
The Robins will be looking to bounce back at the first attempt and they have all the tools at their disposal to do so. They’ve signed some quality personnel in players such as Justin Carney and Masi Masoe. Coach Tim Sheens should have enough experience to get the Robins promoted without a MPG appearance.
3.) Catalans Dragons
The Dragons have been sucked into the fight for survival and despite fleeting moments of quality, the lack of consistency has been apparent. Home form could be crucial and they should pick up enough points to avoid any trouble.
4.) Leigh Centurions
After a promising start to the season Leigh’s campaign has really stuttered as they’ve tried to adjust to life in Super League. They clearly have some talented individuals within their squad but all too often the team ethic has been lacking. We anticipate a MPG appearance.
5.) Widnes Vikings
The writing’s been on the wall for Denis Betts’ men since he failed to replace key pivot Kevin Brown in January. They simply lack a cutting edge in every aspect. A lot could depend on the form of Rangi Chase and whether he can weave some magic, if not then the MPG awaits.
6.) London Broncos
The Broncos could be the best of the rest in this competition. Jarrud Sammut is still wreaking havoc and he could contribute to one or two upsets for Andrew Henderson’s men.
7.) Halifax RLFC
A tall order for Richard Marshall’s side but they’ve shown what they can do in the Championship including a victory over Table-Toppers Hull KR in Round 23. Watch out for Leeds and Robins old boy Scott Murrell too.
8.) Featherstone Rovers
In a bizarre turn of events, the Featherstone board took it upon themselves to sack Jon Sharp and bring in John Duffy with the Qualifiers on the horizon. The Board obviously have high expectations but they’re unlikely to be reached this time around.