Defending champions Wigan Warriors are just 7/4 with William Hill to again top the table at the end of the regular season as the new Super League campaign gets under way in Cardiff this weekend. Having strengthened an already formidable squad with the capture of Ryan Hoffman, Jeff Lima and Brett Finch from Melbourne Storm, Michael Maguire’s side have to be fancied both in that market and in the Grand Final betting, where they are 2/1 courtesy of Betfred to be crowned victors at Old Trafford for the second consecutive year.
Last year’s beaten finalists St Helens are 7/2 (Stan James) to go one better in 2011 but they will play all of their home games at Widnes which isn’t ideal, Keiron Cunningham has retired and Saints are possibly too reliant on a core bunch of players – including James Graham, James Roby, Leon Pryce and Kyle Eastmond – remaining fit for the vast majority of the campaign. Of course they have the quality to be a force but they have come up just short over the last few seasons, falling at the final hurdle and that could happen again this year.
The potential entertainers are Warrington, who are also 7/2, this time with Paddy Power, for Grand Final glory. The Wolves are 3/1 with Betfred to finish in first place and in Joel Monaghan they have signed a player that can make a real impact but despite their strength in the three-quarters, Tony Smith’s charges will probably have to settle for second spot. It’s between them and Saints in terms of who will contest the Grand Final against Wigan.
Leeds meanwhile, at 5/1 (Coral) in the Grand Final betting, are the only other team given a realistic chance by bookies and they can again be strong. A powerful pack will be a great asset for the Rhinos, who have quality to secure a top four berth but they could lack the consistency to go all the way.