TEAM-BY-TEAM GUIDE TO THE SUPER LEAGUE

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The Independent Online
BRADFORD BULLS

Completely reassembled and intelligently coached, Bradford can even be expected to improve on their remarkable Challenge Cup semi-final form as the season goes on. Should be slick and well-organised in the centre of the field with the addition of James Lowes and Glen Tomlinson.

Prediction: 3rd

CASTLEFORD

Generally lacklustre during the last winter season, and it is hard to see them doing much better this time. The loss of Tawera Nikau is a heavy blow and much will depend on whether Frano Botica can make a successful comeback after his broken leg. Castleford need both his goal-kicking and his all-round ability.

Prediction: 8th

HALIFAX

Their important South Pacific complement should thrive in warmer conditions and Steve Simms has young British forwards of real potential in Paul Rowley and Paul Anderson. Capable of beating the best, although Thrum Hall will not be so daunting to visit in the summer.

Prediction: 6th

LEEDS

The Hugh McGahan-Dean Bell regime should be starting to make Headingley more of a place of work than a gentlemen's club. They have good young players on their way through, but obvious weaknesses in key positions will hold Leeds back until they are addressed.

Prediction: 5th

LONDON BRONCOS

Flattered to deceive last season and do not have an appreciably stronger squad now. Much will depend on what the new coach, Tony Currie, can add. The signs are that their defence will be more reliable, but they need to win and to entertain if they are to attract enough spectators to give The Valley an atmosphere.

Prediction: 10th

OLDHAM

Performed better than expected under a thorough and ambitious coach in Andy Goodway last season, but often a little lacking in class when faced with the better sides. The contribution of two new Australians, Matt Munro and Andrew Patmore, will be important.

Prediction: 9th

PARIS ST-GERMAIN

It is vital for the success of Super League that Paris should be competitive. They have the cream of French talent, but may need to widen their net further if they are to thrive. Lack of familiarity with travelling to France could bring them points against the less well-prepared sides, however.

Prediction: 11th

ST HELENS

Their traditional flair, allied with the Australian methods of Shaun McRae, could just make this the breakthrough season for Saints. A brilliant back line, underrated forwards and the best crop of up-and-coming talent in the country all point to it being their year.

Prediction: Champions

SHEFFIELD EAGLES

Showed their ability with a wonderful winning run in the second half of last season and now look to have the depth in their squad to make a bid for a top-four place. That is their declared aim and the Eagles have a habit of setting themselves realistic targets and attaining them.

Prediction: 4th

WARRINGTON

How the Dorahy-Murphy axis will work in the long run is anybody's guess, but Warrington have some brilliant young players and a couple of exciting newcomers. Still need the right additions of senior players to pull the whole thing together and are watching developments in Australia as keenly as anyone.

Prediction: 7th

WIGAN

At long last, the regular rumours that the empire is on the slide seem to have some substance. Still more outstanding players than anyone else and obviously the side to beat, but a lack of their usual depth and troubles off the pitch could just throw them off their stride sufficiently to give the others a chance.

Prediction: 2nd

WORKINGTON TOWN

New coach Ross O'Reilly, although well regarded in Australia, has what looks like an impossible task. Broke, isolated, short of players of sufficient ability - if you wanted to be cynical, you could say that Town will perform a valuable service for Super League by preventing London or Paris being cast into oblivion at the end of the first season.

Prediction: 12th

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