Jon Wells: Rugby League World Cup previews what Super League has in store for 2023 | Rugby League News
Sky Sports rugby league expert Jon Wells explains why England’s performances at the Rugby World Cup show there’s a lot to look forward to when the 2023 Betfred Super season League will start…
The day before the men’s Rugby World Cup quarter-finals and the day after the fixtures for the 2023 Betfred Super League season are announced, seems the perfect time to look back on the England men’s ruthless progress – who have made their way. the group stages – as well as the incredible starts of the England and Wheelchair England women’s teams.
And to look forward to what promises to be a great 2023 Super League season, with more eyeballs than ever to be surely drawn into the most competitive domestic leagues – competition which has in turn facilitated the success that we have seen so far from the men’s national team.
Thursday 16 February: Warrington Wolves vs Leeds Rhinos (live on Sky – 8pm)
Friday 17 February: Wakefield Trinity v Catalans Dragons (7.30pm) Leigh Leopards v Salford Red Devils (Live on Sky – 8pm)
Saturday February 18: Hull KR v Wigan Warriors (1 p.m.)
Sunday February 19: Hull FC vs Castleford Tigers (3 p.m.)
This World Cup has seen the emergence on the international scene of ‘new’ stars – think Dom Young and Marc Sneyd’s late England debut – as well as the continuing and inexorably growing stock of St Helens wonderkid Jack Welsby ( Man of Steel elected for 2023 – tip now, remember this).
As impressive as they all were, none were quite so surprising. For those who have watched the Super League over the years you will already know what a talent Marc Sneyd is, you will know that Jack Welsby is destined for the very top level and you would have been aware of Dom Young’s magnificent performance for Yorkshire. in the Academy Origin game at Castleford Tigers in April 2019.
It was a game attended by more than one NRL scout, and the game which many believe marked the start of Young’s journey from the Huddersfield Giants to the Newcastle Knights. And by the way, this match also featured future Super League starlets Lewis Dodd, Mikey Lewis, Connor Wrench, Liam Tindall, Ellis Longstaff, Corey Hall and Josh Thewlis.
What was surprising was the ruthless nature with which England dominated Group A. Admittedly, they encountered under-prepared Samoa in the first round and rarely had to step out of second gear in their subsequent victories against France and Greece, but you can only play what is in front of you.
Highlights from the 2022 Betfred Super League Grand Final between St Helens and Leeds Rhinos
Why and how so ruthless then? Why and how so competent, composed and controlled? Well, the first truth is that England have found their perfect coach.
Shaun Wane is about as stubborn as I’ve come across in the game. He’s a perfectionist and demands that his players and staff share that unique approach. But he is also seasoned, experienced, has welcomed the ideas and philosophies of other leading figures in other sports, and in turn has distilled all of this into a clear vision and path for his players to embark on. and follow.
The second truth is that the gaming stock he had to choose from is as good as it has been for decades. More on why later, but the net result is cohesion.
Wane and his coaching staff have successfully fused and molded, teased and intertwined talent, ego, experience, youth, skill and stubborn application into one whole – for the first time in a long time – which is greater than the sum of its constituent parts. . England have a high chance of featuring in back-to-back World Cup finals later this month.
But back to the players. First, we must recognize the contribution of the NRL-based contingent; Victor Radley’s decision to represent his father’s native country was undoubtedly a huge boost for England, as anyone who watched the group games would attest – and in particular the first clash with Samoa .
Herbie Farnworth, Elliott Whitehead and Tom Burgess, as well as World Cup top try scorer Young, also plied their trades in the NRL, and many England team-mates have also experienced the intensity of Australian competition at various stages. of their career. . It certainly helps. The NRL is widely accepted as the pinnacle of club play around the world.
The reasons for this are complex, varied and involve culture, money, talent backgrounds, number of appearances, and probably require a separate article to unravel them – but it’s not that the players are better.
The Super League is a fantastic competition which in this World Cup cycle alone has propelled Welsby, Sneyd, Joe Batchelor, Kai Pearce-Paul, Mikolaj Oledzki and Andy Ackers onto an international stage where they have all excelled.
Salford Red Devils hooker Andy Ackers is a player whose Super League performances propelled him to international honors
And they excel because they are excellent players, surrounded by other excellent players, and become an excellent team thanks to the unwavering focus of a decorated and excellent coach who arrived here, and brought them there, through the fire oven that is the Super League.
The success of the England team has its roots in the competitive heat of the Super League; the success of the second allows the progress of the first. As sure as night follows day, strong club competition means better representation on the international stage.
Of course, there are a million other things that help along the way – but the essence of this England team is forged in Wigan and Warrington, St Helens and Salford, the Yorkshire hills and the shadow of the mountains of Perpignan. , between February and October.
So back to where we started: enjoy the continued progress of English men; watch the women follow suit – and, by the way, can we recognize the decision by the Leeds Rhinos to start paying their women’s team from 2023 as a defining moment for the game and a late tipping point is now surely on the horizon – and cheer, and grimace, as the wheelchair team smashes, punches and smashes their way through their opposition during the remainder of November.
Then, once the dust has settled, expect to see all those talents don their club shirts for the start of the 2023 Super League season from Thursday 16th February.
It will be a season. St Helens are defending their title, and it’s a crown they wear well, but the resurgent Leeds Rhinos will want a say, as will the Wigan Warriors.
The Catalan Dragons will be looking to breathe fire again; Huddersfield Giants recruited well; Salford Red Devils will make it hell for the opposition and Warrington Wolves could just find their bite. Hull City will again be divided, but united in their respective quests to dethrone the champions – as will West Yorkshire’s Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity.
And welcome to Super League Leigh Leopards, promoted from a Betfred Championship they completely dominated in 2022. Yes, it will be a season – and we’ll see you on the starting line.
The new Super League season kicks off on Thursday February 16 on Sky Sports, with Warrington Wolves taking on 2022 grand finalists Leeds Rhinos. A total of 66 matches will be shown live on Sky Sports throughout the season.