Rugby League: ...And here are the headlines for 1999

Independent writers play the prediction game
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The Independent Online
IT HAS been said it before and might have to be said again, but this really should be the season when Leeds make the breakthrough. It is long enough since the club won major honours to make Manchester City's wait for a winning team look like a brief depression, but Leeds now look ready.

They had the measure of Wigan in the regular season last time and only lost out to their great rivals' superior know-how in the play-offs. They were oustandingly well coached and their players will have learnt a great deal from their near miss in 1998.

On top of a couple of key signings to strengthen their squad in Lee Jackson and Karl Pratt, Leeds have the best under-19s in the game. Throw in a bigger contribution from Barrie McDermott and the resources available to Graham Murray start to look formidable.

Against that, Wigan, still Leeds' logical stumbling block, look a little thin in some positions. Considering how little there was between the two sides last season, the balance could tilt sufficiently this time.

So there you have it: Leeds to win Super League, pursued by Wigan, St Helens and Bradford. Gateshead to be respectable, but Wakefield to flounder; and do not expect Sheffield Eagles to give up the Challenge Cup without an almighty fight.