25th March 2021, 09:20 | super_league
It’s been four months since Jack Welsby sealed consecutive Betfred Super League titles for St Helens in the most dramatic of fashion in a unique Grand Final at the KCOM Stadium, and this weekend we welcome the return of the competition with six huge fixtures, all live on Sky Sports.
The reigning champions kick-off Round One as they face their 2019 Grand Final foes Salford Red Devils.
Kristian Woolf’s side will be looking to make an identical start to the 2020 season in which they also defeated the Red Devils in Round One. New signings Agnatius Paasi and Siona Mata’utia are in line to debut for St Helens.
Salford come into the fixture under the stewardship of Richard Marshall, who replaced the departing Ian Watson at the end of 2020. In addition to the Head Coach, the Red Devils have named a host of new names in their squad including Morgan Escaré, Elijah Taylor, Danny Addy, Harvey Livett, Matt Costello, Jack Wells and Declan Patton.
The second fixture of Friday’s mouth-watering double-header sees Leigh Centurions make their return to the Betfred Super League as they face local rivals Wigan Warriors.
Leigh have bolstered their squad significantly in the off-season with the arrivals of players such as Matty Russell, Blake Wallace, Joe Mellor and Adam Sidlow who were all previously representing Toronto Wolfpack. Experienced forward Tyrone McCarthy is also named in John Duffy’s first squad of the season alongside Ryan Brierley, Mark Ioane and Nathaniel Peteru.
As for the Warriors, they are without both Jackson Hastings and Bevan French for Round One due to their late arrivals back from Australia, but Jai Field – who arrived from Parramatta ahead of the 2021 season – is named in Adrian Lam’s squad. John Bateman will also make his long-awaited return to the Betfred Super League.
Saturday’s Betfred Super League offering sees Wakefield Trinity face Leeds Rhinos while Catalans Dragons battle Hull Kingston Rovers.
The Rhinos head into Round One with Luke Gale, Robert Lui, Jack Walker and Harry Newman all ruled out due to injury, but they Fijian forward King Vuniyayawa could make his competitive debut for Leeds. Wakefield could be buoyed by the debut of Samoan halfback Mason Lino and will be confident knowing they have lost just two of their last six outings against Leeds.
Hull KR finished bottom of the Betfred Super League in 2020 but Tony Smith has been busy in the off-season bringing in England’s all-time top try-scorer Ryan Hall alongside NRL trio Albert Vete, Korbin Sims and Brad Taikarangi. Catalans will be looking to continue where they left off in 2020 with a highly impressive run of performances seeing the Dragons seal a Play-Off place.
The third of this weekend’s double-headers – live on Sky Sports – includes Hull FC and Huddersfield Giants going head-to-head while Castleford Tigers and Warrington Wolves get their seasons underway both knowing it will be the final one with both Daryl Powell and Steve Price at the helm, respectively.
Hull FC came out on top in both meetings against the Giants in 2020, but Huddersfield will be looking for a strong start under the leadership of former Red Devils Head Coach Ian Watson.
Kangaroos’ legend Greg Inglis won’t be available for Warrington’s Round One clash with Castleford but Price’s men head into the weekend on the back of an impressive performance in Chris Hill’s Testimonial Fixture which included a Tom Lineham hat-trick.
The Tigers twice ran Warrington close last season suffering a 9-8 loss in Round Six before and 10-12 defeat in Round 12. Powell’s side will be hopeful of changing their fortunes against the Wire and notching their first points of 2020.
St Helens v Salford Red Devils (6pm) – Sky Sports Main Event & Arena
Leigh Centurions v Wigan Warriors (8:15pm) – Sky Sports Main Event & Arena
Wakefield Trinity v Leeds Rhinos (3pm) – Sky Sports Arena
Catalans Dragons v Hull Kingston Rovers (5:15pm) – Sky Sports Arena
Hull FC v Huddersfield Giants (12:30pm) – Sky Sports Arena & Mix
Castleford Tigers v Warrington Wolves (2:45pm) – Sky Sports Arena & Mix