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Super League coaches Brian McDermott and Richard Agar give controversial proposed rule changes thumbs up

Super League coaches give thumbs up to controversial proposed rule changes



16:40 GMT, 27 December 2012

Super League coaches Brian McDermott and Richard Agar have given their 'thumbs up' to the experimental rule changes trialled on Boxing Day, although the Rugby Football League have been criticised over their introduction.

The changes were formulated by the RFL's laws committee and put into practice during the Leeds-Wakefield festive challenge at Headingley, as well as the Batley-Dewsbury derby.

The option for teams to reduce the numbers in a scrum was largely ignored at Headingley, where one man was sent off and four others were sin-binned, and there was no instance of the ball being kicked dead from before halfway, which would have resulted in a 40-metre restart.

Controversial: The proposed changes were trialled during Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Wildcats on Boxing Day

Controversial: The proposed changes were trialled during Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Wildcats on Boxing Day

Teams with scrum feed can leave the loose forward out of the pack to create an extra man.
Tackle count does not reset with a charge-down. If the ball is kicked dead from a team's own half the opposition receive a 40-metre tap.

However, there was a clear example at Leeds of the proposal to continue the tackle count in the event of a charge-down and Wakefield scored one of their tries after being given the advantage to play on following a handling error by their opponents.

Wildcats boss Agar was full of praise for Danny Cowling's speculative kick, following a loss of possession by Leeds on halfway, which set up a score for full-back Richard Mathers.

'It's a free shot and a terrific example of how it's going to work,' Agar said.

'It's a rule I feel should be a positive one.

'It could get messy sometimes with play coming back 50 or 60 metres and slowing the game up but in terms of trying things and producing more attacking rugby we should give it a go.

'Rugby league has always been a sport that is not afraid to put its neck on the line and be a bit innovative and I'm all for that.'

Leeds boss McDermott said: 'I like the new rules. The punishment for a charge-down if it doesn't come off has always been heavily weighted towards the team with the ball.

'The added man from the scrum will take some getting used to. I don't think there is a play out there just yet that will get the defence.'

Friendly There was clearly no festive cheer during this exhibition match

Friendly There was clearly no festive cheer during this exhibition match

Agar claimed his club was not told of the experimental rules until just before their final training session and, therefore, did not have enough time to prepare for them.

'We didn't know about them until Friday,' he said. 'We would have tried some things around them had we had more time.

'Certainly I applaud the RFL for trying them and this was the right game in which to do it but the way it was communicated was wrong.

'We should know, then the players could have a say and the fans should know a bit earlier than they did so they could go away and debate it.

'There's a lot of senior, highly-paid management at the RFL who forgot to tell us which I find a bit disappointing.'

The RFL say details of the experimental changes were presented to the autumn meeting of the RL Council and their impact will be assessed in the new year before any decision is taken on their future implementation.

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood, who chairs the laws committee, said: 'Christmas friendlies are the perfect opportunity to trial changes such as these and I would like to thank all four clubs for their willingness to participate in the experiment.'

Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire in 2014

Tour de Yorkshire! Historic Grand Depart stage to be held in God's own county in 2014 (…and then it's on to London)



11:50 GMT, 14 December 2012

The historic Grand Depart of the Tour de France will be staged in Yorkshire in 2014, organisers announced today.

It follows a campaign by the Welcome to Yorkshire tourist agency to bring the prestigious event to the county.

Full details of the route will be announced in two press conferences held in Paris and Leeds on January 17, 2013.

It is believed there will be a stage in Yorkshire on July 5, 2014, starting in Leeds, and then a second stage the following day starting in the county and ending in London.

Leeds will host a Festival of Cycling to coincide with the stage.

Barnsley Wiggins Sky's Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour this year

Barnsley Wiggins Sky's Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour this year


Allez 'Alifax. Vive la Dewsbury. How do Bienvenue.

Yes, the news that the 2014 Tour de France will begin in God's Own County is sure to provoke much mocking headline fun.

But just listen 'ere… First, Yorkshire conquered the Olympics last summer after winning gold after gold after gold (Nicola Adams, Alistair Brownlee, Jessica Ennis).

We're now putting India's cricketers to the sword in Nagpur thanks to Joe Root and Tim Bresnan. Now we've won the honour of launching the greatest race in the world.

Those of us lucky enough to have been born there – think Geoffrey Boycott, Dame Judi Dench, Richard Whitely, Sir Michael Parkinson, Arctic Monkeys, Alan Bennett, Harry Ramsden and Sooty (but not Sweep, that thug is clearly Lancastrian) – have long-since known Yorkshire is the biggest and best county.

And we'll revel in showing off our stunning scenery, cosmopolitan cities (erm… Leeds and Sheffield) and welcoming personalities.
Just don't expect us to get our round in.

Forget Le Tour, welcome to t'Tour. It'll be fan-bloody-tastic.

MARK ALFORD, Professional Yorkshireman

A statement from ASO read: 'The organisers of the Tour de France are pleased to announce that the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2014 will take place in the United Kingdom in the county of Yorkshire, before heading to London for a stage finish.

'After an outstanding 2012 for British cycling, marked by the historical victory of Bradley Wiggins on the Tour de France, the United Kingdom will again hold pride of place in 2014.

'The Grand Depart of the 101st edition of the Tour will take place on July 5 in Leeds in the county of Yorkshire.

'Seven years after the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2007 and two years after the latest Olympic Games, London will host the last stage on British soil, before the pack returns to mainland Europe.

'The details of this Grand Depart and the stages it will include will be revealed at a press conference that will take place on Thursday January 17, 2013, in two phases, in both Leeds and Paris.'

British Cycling president Brian Cookson said: 'Like every other cycling fan, I am thrilled the world's biggest bike race is coming back to this country.

'The huge numbers who turned out to support the 2007 Grand Depart and the London 2012 road races show the passion we have for cycling.

'I'm sure Yorkshire will give the 2014 Tour de France a welcome which will stand out in the race's rich history.'

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, added: 'Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole.

'We are honoured that the race organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Dpart.

'It will mean less than two years after hosting the Olympics the British public can look forward to another of the world’s biggest sporting events coming to the country, and I am in no doubt they will come to Yorkshire in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling and our home grown British heroes.

World famous race: Scenes like this in France will be coming to Yorkshire in 2014

World famous race: Scenes like this in France will be coming to Yorkshire in 2014


How many seconds in front of t’peloton – Combien de secondes d'avance sur le peloton

Look at ‘em overtaking the lad from t’Hovis ad – Regardez-les dpassements du jeune homme de l'annonce Hovis

What is this t’Yorkshire pudding – Quel est ce pouding Yorkshire

What time is t’Emmerdale t’on – Quelle heure est-Emmerdale t-il

Where is the statue of t’Eric Cantona – O est la statue d'Eric Cantona

Buy your bloody own – Achetez votre propre sanglante

'Yorkshire is a passionate county of proud people and I am sure they will guarantee that their Grand Dpart raises the bar in terms of expectations for all future hosts to come.'

MP for Leeds North West Greg Mulholland said:
'This is absolutely fantastic news for Yorkshire, to have won the bid to be hosting a stage of the Tour de France in the same year as the first ever British winner is sensational.

'The Tour de France is one of the biggest and most prestigious sporting events in the world and to think it will be coming through the cities, towns and streets of Yorkshire is so exciting and it will be a huge boost to the local economy as well as cycling.

'The Back Le Bid team have done a quite superb job and I want to pay tribute to their excellent campaign to show the organisers what Yorkshire has to offer. They have achieved something very special and historic that generations will both enjoy and treasure.'

It is the first time since 2007 the opening part of the Tour will be held in Britain. Then, one million people lined the streets of London for the opening prologue.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'I am thrilled that the Tour de France will return to the UK and no location could be better than London for what will no doubt be an exhilarating climax to the British section of the race.

'This year we proved our expertise not just in hosting world class sporting events, but in winning them too, and I am sure Bradley Wiggins and several of his compatriots will be hugely excited at the prospect of the Tour returning to their home streets.'

Tour organisers Maury Sports Organisation selected Yorkshire ahead of a separate British-wide bid with an Edinburgh start, but that remains in the running for a future date, possibly 2017.

An EventScotland spokesman said: 'It is disappointing that we have been unsuccessful for the 2014 Grand Depart but it is great news that the Tour is returning in 2014 following British cycling success this year.

'Our initial plans had highlighted 2017 as our preferred date and we have had a positive indication from ASO that the year is still a possibility.

'We have developed a great British bid with strong partners, which would deliver significant benefits to the whole country and we will continue our positive dialogue with ASO in the new year and look at our next steps.'

The 100th edition of the Tour begins in Corsica on June 29, 2013.

Britain's Bradley Wiggins is the defending champion, having become the first rider from this country to claim overall victory this summer.

Some of Yorkshire's beautiful scenery

Yorkshire immortalised in the famous 1973 Hovis advert

Wigan 20 Warrington 22: Warriors pay penalty as Hodgson kicks winner

Wigan 20 Warrington 22: Warriors pay penalty as Hodgson kicks winner



00:15 GMT, 24 March 2012

Brett Hodgson's 40-metre penalty with eight minutes left took Warrington to Super League’s summit.

Hodgson kept his nerve when Wigan’s Epalahame Lauaki was penalised for a dangerous throw, and though the Wolves clung on, coach Tony Smith still wasn’t happy.

‘We’re frustrated with how we’re playing,’ said Smith. ‘We have to rectify that so we don’t have to do it the hard way.’

Try time! Wolves' Briers scores for the visitors

Try time! Wolves' Briers scores for the visitors

Match facts

Wigan: Tries: Hock, McIlorum, Richards.

Goals: Richards 2, Charnley 2.

Wigan: S. Tomkins, Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Richards,
Finch, Leuluai, Prescott, McIlorum, Lauaki, Hansen, Hock,

Replacements: Flower for Prescott (24), Tuson for McIlorum (66), Lima for Lauaki (17), Farrell for Hansen (26).

Warrington: Tries: Atkins, J. Monaghan, Briers. Goals: Hodgson 5.

Warrington: Hodgson, Riley, C. Bridge, Atkins, J. Monaghan, Briers, Myler, Morley, M. Monaghan, Cooper, Waterhouse, Westwood, Grix.

Replacements: Blythe for C. Bridge (27), Wood for Cooper (20), Hill for Grix (27).

Substitutes: Dwyer.

Attendance: 21,267

Referee: Richard Silverwood (Dewsbury).

Warrington had briefly led following
Ryan Atkins’ early try, but Sam Tomkins set up Pat Richards at the start
of the second half to put the hosts in control, only for Lee Briers’
interception try to set up a tense finish.

Warriors boss Shaun Wane
said: ‘I feel like our pocket has been picked.’

The Wolves looked anything but likely victors in an error-strewn opening in which Simon Grix, Michael Monaghan and Trent Waterhouse put their side under enormous pressure by surrendering possession deep inside their own half.

Richards punished them with a penalty which took him past 2,000 points but it merely served to relieve the pressure and the Wolves scored the game's first try from their first meaningful attack.

Half-backs Lee Briers and Richie Myler moved the ball out to the left where centre Ryan Atkins proved unstoppable from 10 yards, taking Darrell Goulding and Josh Charnley over the line with him.

Hodgson's touchline goal made it 6-2 but then Wigan forward Gareth Hock came into his own, intercepting Joel Monaghan's pass to relieve pressure on his own line and causing havoc at the other with his powerful running and offloading.

He levelled the scores on 18 minutes, forcing his way over for a try from acting half-back, and Richards' second goal restored the Warriors' lead before substitute Liam Farrell's break set up the position for hooker Michael McIlorum to add a second try on 26 minutes.

The action was fast and furious as both sides continued to create chances only to be thwarted by magnificent defence.

Atkins came to Warrington's rescue
with a crucial tackle on birthday boy Sam Tomkins before Brett Finch
performed similar heroics to deny Briers and it took some exceptional
finishing by Warrington winger Joel Monaghan to break the deadlock.

Decider: Hodgson kicked the winning penalty

Decider: Hodgson kicked the winning penalty

The Australian took Hodgson's cut-out
pass to dive over at the corner five minutes before half-time and bring
his side to within two points.

Hodgson was inches wide with the goalkick but levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time with his first penalty.

try-saving heroics continued in the second half, with Chris Riley
halting Tomkins' trademark mazy run, but it set up the position for
George Carmont to get Richards over at the corner.

who took over the goalkicking with Richards nursing a thigh injury, was
off target for the second time but re-established his side's six-point
lead with a penalty.

Briers then intercepted Thomas Leuluai's pass to score Warrington's third try and Hodgson's goal made it 18-18.

second Charnley penalty on 55 minutes edged the home side back in front
and Richards had a try disallowed for putting a foot in touch as Wigan
began to look the more likely winners.

As the tension mounted, tempers became frayed and Wigan prop Epalahame Lauaki was put on report by referee Richard Silverwood for raising his elbow.

Hodgson levelled the scores for a fourth time with a 67th-minute penalty and, as Wigan continued to incur the wrath of referee Silverwood, the veteran full-back added another from 40 metres out to settle it.

Nick Fozzard retires

Fozzard calls it quits as injury becomes too much to shoulder



18:11 GMT, 12 March 2012

Veteran forward Nick Fozzard has confirmed his retirement from the game owing to a shoulder injury.

Glory days: Fozzard in action for St Helens

Glory days: Fozzard in action for St Helens

The 35-year-old former Great Britain international, who was seeing out the final year of his career with Championship side Dewsbury, has a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder and has ended his time as a player early as a result.

'I am gutted that we have lost a player of this calibre,' said Dewsbury coach Warren Jowitt.

'He would not have been back for nine months and he is devastated that his career has ended.'

A Challenge Cup and World Club
Challenge winner with St Helens, Fozzard became one of the most feared
front-rowers in the Super League with the Saints and was named in the
2007 Dream Team as a result.

He also played for Leeds, Huddersfield, Warrington and Hull KR, as well as having another spell with the Saints.

His last season in Super League came last year with Castleford.

Super League 2012: Your complete club-by-club guide

Super League 2012: Your complete club-by-club guide

The essential guide to the new season featuring club records, summer signings, latest odds and prospects for the forthcoming campaign.

Leeds Rhinos celebrate Grand Final success

High point: Leeds Rhinos beat St Helens 32-16 in last season's Grand Final


Coach: Mick Potter (since November 2010).

Captain (joint): Heath L’Estrange and Matt Diskin.

2011 finish: 10th.

2011 leading scorers: tries – Shad Royston 10; goals – Patrick Ah Van 87; points – Patrick Ah Van 210.

Biggest Super League win: 96-16 (v Salford, 2000).

Biggest Super League defeat: 66-4 (v St Helens, 2005).

Ground and capacity: Odsal, 26,019.

2010 average attendance: 13,967 (up 5,531).

Record Super League attendance: 24,020 (v Leeds 1999).

In: Manase Manuokafoa (Parramatta), Keith Lulia (Newcastle Knights), Luke Gale (Harlequins), Jarrod Sammut, Elliott Kear (both Crusaders), Adrian Purtell (Penrith Panthers), Karl Pryce (Wigan).

Out: Patrick Ah Van (Widnes) Shad Royston (Pia), Marc Herbert (released), Andy Lynch (Hull), Gareth Raynor (Featherstone), Cain Southernwood (Dewsbury, on season-long loan), Steve Crossley (released).

Odds to finish top: 50-1 (William Hill).

Prospects: The pressure is coach Mick Potter to avoid another season of under-achievement and the play-offs could once more be out of the Bulls’ reach. Andy Lynch is a big loss for them.

Prediction: 9th.

Stobart Super League trophy


Coach: Trent Robinson (since November 2010).

Captain: Gregory Mounis.

2011 finish: 6th.

2011 leading scorers: tries – Damien Blanch 20; goals – Scott Dureau 92; points – Scott Dureau 233.

Biggest Super League win: 66-6 (v Salford, 2007).

Biggest Super League defeat: 60-12 (v Leeds, 2006).

Ground and capacity: Gilbert Brutus Stadium, 13,000.

2011 average attendance: 8,387 (up 1,573).

Record Super League attendance: 11,122 (v Wigan, 2006, at Stade Aime Giral) (also drew 18,150 for visit of Warrington to Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium in 2009).

In: Leon Pryce (St Helens), Louis Anderson (Warrington), Julian Bousquet (Lezignan).

Out: Ben Farrar (Manly), Sebastien Martins (Lezignan).

Odds to finish top: 14-1.

Prospects: Trent Robinson has made a couple of significant additions to his squad and they look sure to be competitive, especially on home soil. Despite an early glut of injuries, the Dragons could be an outside bet for Old Trafford.

Prediction: 5th.

Stobart Super League trophy


Coach: Ian Millward (since November 2011).

Captain: Danny Orr.

2011 finish: 9th.

2011 leading scorers: tries – Rangi Chase, Richard Owen, Nick Youngquest 12; goals: Kirk Dixon 84; points – Kirk Dixon 196.

Biggest Super League win: 74-16 (v Salford, 2002).

Biggest Super League defeat: 62-0 (v Warrington, 2011) (also lost 68-12 v St Helens, 2008).

Ground and capacity: The Probiz Coliseum (formerly Wheldon Road), 11,750.

2011 average attendance: 7,156 (up 540).

Record Super League attendance: 11,731 (v Leeds, 2004).

In: Josh Griffin (Huddersfield),
Steve Nash (Leigh), Lee Mitchell, Ryan Shaw (both Warrington, on loan,
Grant Millington (Canterbury Bulldogs), James Grehan (Limoux).

Out: Nick Fozzard (Dewsbury), Dean
Widders (returned to Australia), Willie Isa (Widnes), Greg Eden
(Huddersfield), Martin Aspinwall (Hull), Richard Mathers (Wakefield on
season-long loan).

Odds to finish top: 66-1.

Prospects: New coach Ian Millward
will need to call on all his nous if he is to take the Tigers into the
play-offs. They will rely heavily on 2011 Man of Steel Rangi Chase.

Prediction: 12th.


Coach: Nathan Brown (since December 2008).

Captain: Kevin Brown.
2011 finish: 4th.
2011 leading scorers: tries – Jermaine McGilvary 16; goals – Danny Brough 82; points – Danny Brough 197.

Biggest Super League win: 68-16 (v Leigh, 2005) (also 52-0 and 58-6 v Wakefield, 2010).

Biggest Super League defeat: 86-6 (v Leeds, 1999).

Ground and capacity: Galpharm Stadium, 24,500.

2011 average attendance: 7,147 (down 86).

Record Super League attendance: 15,629 (v Leeds, 2008).

In: Jason Chan (Crusaders), Aaron Murphy, Tommy Lee, Luke George (all Wakefield), Greg Eden (Castleford), Tony Tonks (Featherstone).

Out: Darrell Griffin (Leeds), David Hodgson, Graeme Horne, Keal Carlile (all Hull KR), Gregg McNally (Leigh), Josh Griffin (Castleford), Kyle Wood, Andy Raleigh, Danny Kirmond (all Wakefield), Elliott Hodgson, Jamie Simpson (both (released).

Odds to finish top: 16-1.

Prospects: Nathan Brown will be keen to finish on a high as he prepares to return to Australia and the Giants look a shoe-in for the top eight but they do not look as strong this year and another top-four finish looks a tall order.
Prediction: 6th.


Coach: Peter Gentle (since November 2011).

Captain: Andy Lynch.

2011 finish: 8th.

2011 leading scorers: tries – Kirk Yeaman 21; goals – Danny Tickle 83; points – Danny Tickle 202.

Biggest Super League win: 82-6 (v Salford, 2004).

Biggest Super League defeat: 64-10 (v St Helens, 2002) – also lost 71-0 at Bradford in 2005 play-offs.

Ground and capacity: KC Stadium, 25,404.

2011 average attendance: 12,431 (down 1,583).

Record Super League attendance: 23,004 (v Hull KR, 2007).

In: Jamie Ellis (Leigh), Aaron Heremaia, Brett Seymour (both New Zealand Warriors), Wade McKinnon (Wests Tigers), Eamon O’Carroll (Wigan), Andy Lynch (Bradford), Tony Martin (Crusaders), Martin Aspinwall (Castleford), Mike Burnett (returned from loan at Harlequins).

Out: Sean Long, Lee Radford, Craig Fitzgibbon (all retired), Martin Gleeson, Ewan Dowes (both released), Cameron Phelps (Widnes), Epalahame Lauaki (Wigan), Danny Washbrook (Wakefield), Sam Obst (Keighley).

Odds to finish top: 20-1.

Prospects: Hull have presented new coach Peter Gentle with a much-changed squad and all look quality additions so an assault on the top four could be on.

Prediction: 7th.

Stobart Super League trophy


Coach: Craig Sandercock (since November 2011).

Captain: Ben Galea.

2011 finish: 7th.

2011 leading scorers: tries – Kris Welham 24; goals – Michael Dobson 76; points – Michael Dobson 179.

Biggest Super League win: 70-14 (v Wakefield, 2011).

Biggest Super League defeat: 60-20 (v Warrington, 2007 – also lost 40-0 v St Helens, 2010 and 56-6 v Catalan Dragons in 2011 play-offs).

Ground and capacity: Craven Park, 10,250.

2011 average attendance: 8,320 (up 86).

Record Super League attendance: 10,250 (v Hull, 2011).

In: David Hodgson, Graeme Horne, Keal Carlile (all Huddersfield), Lincoln Withers, Ryan O’Hara (both Crusaders), George Griffin (Queanbeyan Kangaroos), Micky Paea (Canterbury Bulldogs), Constantine Mika, Shannon McDonnell (both Newcastle).

Out: Clint Newton (Penrith Panthers) Mick Vella (retired), Ben Fisher (Batley), Shaun Briscoe (Widnes), Liam Colbon, Matt Cook (both London Broncos), Peter Fox (Wakefield).

Odds to finish top: 40-1.

Prospects: Rovers have lost a lot of experience and 2012 could be a year of consolidation under new coach Craig Sandercock, especially after losing playmaker Blake Green for much of it with a blood clot.

Prediction: 10th.

Stobart Super League trophy


Coach: Brian McDermott (since November 2010).
Captain: Kevin Sinfield.

2011 finish: 5th.

2011 leading scorers (including play-offs): tries – Ryan Hall 28; goals – Kevin Sinfield 138; points – Kevin Sinfield 286.

Biggest Super League win: 86-6 (v Huddersfield, 1999).

Biggest Super League defeat: 68-14 (v Wigan, 1996).

Ground and capacity: Headingley, 20,000.

2011 average attendance: 14,669 (down 568).

Record Super League attendance: 23,035 (v Bradford 2003).

In: Darrell Griffin (Huddersfield), Richard Moore (Crusaders), Luke Ambler (returned from loan at Harlequins).

Out: Keith Senior (released), Luke Burgess (South Sydney), Ben Cross (Widnes), Danny Buderus (Newcastle), Kyle Amor, Ali Lauitiiti (both Wakefield).

Odds to finish top: 6-1.

Prospects: No one will under-estimate the Rhinos after last year’s incredible achievement and they will once more be pushing for Old Trafford.

Prediction: 4th.


Coach: Rob Powell (since November 2010).

Captain: tbc.

2011 finish: 12th.

2011 leading scorers: tries – Luke Dorn 13; goals – Luke Gale 75; points – Luke Gale 184.

Biggest Super League win: 72-8 (v Wakefield, 2005).

Biggest Super League defeat: 82-6 (v Warrington, 2011).

Ground and capacity: Twickenham Stoop, 15,000.

2011 average attendance: 3,132 (down 248).

Record Super League attendance: 9,638 (v Paris, at The Valley, 1996).

In: Craig Gower (French RU), Mark Bryant, Michael Witt (both Crusaders), Antonio Kaufusi (Newcastle Knights), Shane Rodney (Manly), Julien Rinaldi (Wakefield), Jarrad Hickey (Wakefield, to be confirmed), Michael Robertson (Manly), Liam Colbon, Matt Cook (both Hull KR).

Out: Luke Gale (Bradford), Rob Purdham (retired), Andy Ellis, Oliver Wilkes (both Wakefield), David Williams (London Skolars), Mark Burnett (returned from loan spell to Hull), Nick Kouparitsas, Danny Ward, Mark Calderwood (all released), Luke Ambler (returned to Leeds after loan spell), Karl Pryce (returned from loan spell to Wigan).

Odds to finish top: 80-1.

Prospects: After a dismal 2011, the only way is up for Rob Powell’s men in their new guise and, with a host of quality signings, they ought to be pushing for a play-off spot.

Prediction: 8th.


Coach: Phil Veivers (since November 2011).

Captain: Stephen Wild.

2011 finish: 11th.

2011 leading scorers: tries – Jodie Broughton 14; goals – Daniel Holdsworth 68; points – Daniel Holdsworth 164.

Biggest Super League win: 56-16 (v Bradford, 2011).

Biggest Super League defeat: 96-16 (v Bradford, 2000).
Ground and capacity: Salford Community Stadium, 12,000.

2011 average attendance: 4,754 (up 588).

Record Super League attendance: 10,146 (v Catalan 2011).

In: Shannan McPherson (South Sydney), Ben Gledhill, Josh Veivers, Stuart Howarth (all Wakefield), Joel Moon (New Zealand Warriors), Jordan James (Crusaders), Matty Ashurst (St Helens).

Out: Stefan Ratchford (Warrington), Ray Cashmere, Mark Henry (both returned to Australia), Jack Spencer (Wests Tigers), Rob Parker, Adam Clay (both Leigh).
Odds to finish top: 80-1.

Prospects: A new home and a new coach, but it is hard to see a change in fortunes for the City Reds, who will sorely miss departed duo Ray Cashmere and Stefan Ratchford.

Prediction: 13th.

Stobart Super League trophy


Coach: Royce Simmons (since November 2010).

Captain: Paul Wellens.

2011 finish: 3rd.

2011 leading scorers (including play-offs): tries – Jamie Foster 21; goals – Jamie Foster 123; points – Jamie Foster 330.

Biggest Super League win: 78-4 (v Leigh, 2005).

Biggest Super League defeat: 70-0 (v Leeds, 2004).

Ground and capacity: Langtree Park, 18,000.

2011 average attendance (at Widnes): 7,975 (down 3,594).

Record Super League attendance: 18,098 (v Warrington, 1996).

In: Lance Hohaia (New Zealand Warriors), Anthony Laffranchi (Gold Coast), Mark Flanagan (Wests Tigers).

Out: James Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), Kyle Eastmond (Bath RU), Leon Pryce (Catalan Dragons), Matty Ashurst (Salford), Scott Moore (Widnes), Tom Armstrong (Swinton), Gareth Frodsham (Batley).

Odds to finish top: 10-3.

Prospects: Saints begin life after James Graham at an impressive new home and, despite the loss of their inspirational forward, they are sure to be gunning for a seventh consecutive appearance at Old Trafford.

Prediction: 3rd.

Stobart Super League trophy


Coach: Richard Agar (since November 2011).

Captain: Steve Southern.

2011 finish: 13th.

2011 leading scorers: tries – Chris Dean 8; goals – Josh Veivers 22; points – Josh Griffin 62.

Biggest Super League win: 68-6 (v Halifax, 2003).

Biggest Super League defeat: 72-8 (v London, 2005).

Ground and capacity: Rapid Solicitors Stadium (formerly Belle Vue), 11,000.

2011 average attendance: 6,552 (up 568).

Record Super League attendance: 11,000 (v Castleford, 2006).

In: Issac John (New Zealand Warriors), Oliver Wilkes, Andy Ellis (both Harlequins), Vince Mellars (Crusaders), Kyle Amor, Ali Lauitiiti (both Leeds), Kyle Wood, Andy Raleigh, Danny Kirmond (all Huddersfield), Ben Cockayne (Featherstone), Peter Fox (Hull KR), Steve Southern (Newcastle Knights), Dean Collis (Cronulla), Danny Washbrook (Hull), Tim Smith (Cronulla), Matt James (Barrow), Paul Aiton (Cronulla), Richard Mathers (Castleford, on season-long loan).

Out: Chris Dean (Widnes), Paul King (York), Tommy Lee, Aaron Murphy, Luke George (all Huddersfield), Julien Rinaldi, Jarrad Hickey (both Harlequins), Ben Gledhill, Josh Veivers, Stu Howarth (all Salford), Glenn Morrison, Matt Blaymire (both retired), Michael Korkidas, Semi Tadulala (both Keighley), Liam Higgins (Sheffield), Kevin Penny (Swinton), Jeremy Smith, Kevin Henderson, Samy Masselot, Ryan Tongia, Greg Johnson (all released), Gareth Moore (Batley).

Odds to finish top: 150-1.

Prospects: Pretty much an unknown quantity, it is all change for the Wildcats under new coach Richard Agar with 18 new signings and it could take time for his new-look side to gel.

Prediction: 11th.


Coach: Tony Smith (since March 2009).

Captain: Adrian Morley.

2011 finish: 1st.

2011 leading scorers (including play-offs): tries – Joel Monaghan 26; goals – Brett Hodgson 121; points – Brett Hodgson 314.

Biggest Super League win: 62-0 (v Castleford, 2011) (also 66-6 v Halifax, 2003).

Biggest Super League defeat: 72-2 (v St Helens, 2002).
Ground and capacity: Halliwell Jones Stadium, 15,000.

2011 average attendance: 11,149 (up 411).

Record Super League attendance: 14,206 (v Wakefield, 2004).

In: Trent Waterhouse (Penrith Panthers), Chris Hill (Leigh), Stefan Ratchford (Salford).

Out: Matt King (South Sydney), Louis Anderson (Catalan Dragons), Jon Clarke (Widnes), Lee Mitchell, Ryan Shaw (both Castleford on loan).

Odds to finish top: 9-4.

Prospects: Tony Smith has sensibly kept changes to a minimum and the Wolves look the team to beat in 2012. If they can keep their nerve when it comes to the play-offs, they could be celebrating a maiden Grand-Final victory.

Prediction: 1st.


Coach: Denis Betts (since November 2010).

Captain: Jon Clarke.

2011 finish: 5th in Championship.

2011 leading scorers: tries – Steven Tyrer 12; goals – Steve Tyrer 69; points – Steve Tyrer – 186.

Biggest Super League win: 46-10 (v Hull, 2003) (also won 52-22 v Halifax 2002).

Biggest Super League defeat: 70-4 (v Hull, 2004) (also lost 74-24 v Bradford, 2005).

Ground and capacity: Stobart Stadium, 13,350.

2011 average attendance: 3,744 (up 886).

Record Super League attendance: 9,825 (v Warrington, 2005).

In: Willie Isa (Castleford), Shaun Briscoe (Hull KR), Ben Davies, Ben Cross (both Wigan), Frank Winterstein, Rhys Hanbury, Lloyd White, Hep Cahill (all Crusaders), Chris Dean (Wakefield), Patrick Ah Van (Bradford), Jon Clarke (Warrington), Scott Moore (St Helens), Anthony Watts (Sydney Roosters), Stefan Marsh (Wigan on season-long loan), Cameron Phelps (Hull), Sione “John” Kite (Melbourne).

Out: Richard Varkulis (Whitehaven), Danny Hulme, Lee Hudson, Chris Lunt (all North Wales), Chaz I’Anson (Swinton), Matt Gardner (Leigh), Danny Sculthorpe, Gareth Haggerty, Shane Grady, Dean Gaskell, Dave Houghton, Greg Scott, James Coyle, Daniel Heckenberg (all released), Tangi Ropati (Featherstone), Anthony Thackeray, Steve Tyrer (both (Halifax).

Odds to finish top: 200-1.

Prospects: Denis Betts has a difficult task in moulding all his new faces into an effective unit and it could be a long, hard summer on the Vikings’ return to the top flight.

Prediction: 14th.

Stobart Super League trophy


Coach: Shaun Wane (since November 2011).

Captain: Sean O’Loughlin.

2011 finish: 2nd.

2011 leading scorers (including play-offs): tries – Sam Tomkins 28; goals – Pat Richards 115; points – Pat Richards 314.

Biggest Super League win: 78-4 (v Workington, 1996).

Biggest Super League defeat: 70-0 (v Leeds, 2005).

Ground and capacity: JJB Stadium, 25,004.

2011 average attendance: 15,287 (up 110).

Record Super League attendance: 25,004 (v St Helens 2005).

In: Ben Flower, Gil Dudson, Rhodri Lloyd (all Crusaders), Epalahame Lauaki (Hull), Anthony Gelling (Auckland Vulcans).

Out: Joel Tomkins (Saracens RU), Ryan Hoffman (Melbourne), Ben Davies, Ben Cross (both Widnes), Paul Deacon, Andy Coley (both retired), Eamon O’Carroll (Hull), Stefan Marsh (Widnes on season-long loan), Kark Pryce (Bradford).

Odds to finish top: 5-2.

Prospects: The Warriors are not as strong following the departure of some experienced personnel but new coach Shaun Wane will have them knocking on the door of Old Trafford.

Prediction: 2nd.


Wigan's Sam Tomkins evades a tackle from St Helens Lee Gaskell

1996: Champions: St Helens (runners-up: Wigan).

1997: Champions: Bradford (runners-up London Broncos).

1998: League Leaders: Wigan; Grand Final winners: Wigan (runners-up Leeds).

1999: League Leaders: Bradford; Grand Final winners: St Helens (runners-up: Bradford).

2000: League Leaders: Wigan; Grand Final winners: St Helens (runners-up: Wigan).

2001: League Leaders: Bradford; Grand Final winners: Bradford (runners-up: Wigan).

2002: League Leaders: St Helens; Grand Final winners: St Helens (runners-up: Bradford).

2003: League Leaders: Bradford; Grand Final winners: Bradford (runners-up: Wigan).

2004: League Leaders: Leeds; Grand Final winners: Leeds (runners-up: Bradford).

2005: League Leaders: St Helens; Grand Final winners: Bradford (runners-up: Leeds).

2006: League Leaders: St Helens; Grand Final winners: St Helens (runners-up: Hull).

2007: League Leaders: St Helens; Grand Final winners: Leeds (runners-up: St Helens).

2008: League Leaders: St Helens; Grand Final winners: Leeds (runners-up: St Helens).

2009: League Leaders: Leeds: Grand Final winners: Leeds (runners-up: St Helens).

2010: League Leaders: Wigan: Grand Final winners: Wigan (runners-up: St Helens).

2011: League Leaders: Warrington; Grand Final winners: Leeds (runners-up: St Helens).