Here's the new thread for the Rugby League Season SLXXIII (I think its 23?!?) and the usual Q&A. I promise this year I will try to maintain my interest in this thread but it was such a downer after the relegation season through to absolute elation getting promotion this time round. Come on RL'ers, I know you're out there! On a side note, disappointed that Premier Sports have lost the NRL rights to Sky. Gutted about that as you can be damn sure we won't get the all the matches shown live on Sky like we did on Premier. Still no announcement about it though. 1. Your team? 2. Your highlight of last season? 3. Your expectations this season? 4. Your most anticipated new signings? 5. Who you think will win the league leaders shield? 6. Who will be the dark horses of the competition? 7. Any opinions on whether the current competition format will be around at the start of the year, will SL be 14 teams next year with Leigh and Toronto? 8. Final league position of your club? 9. What (or who) will be your clubs weakness next year? 10. Here's what the bookies think for League Leaders Shield, is it fair on your team? Castleford 10/3 St Helens 10/3 Hull FC 11/2 Leeds 11/2 Warrington 11/2 Wigan 11/2 Huddersfield 25/1 Wakefield 50/1 Catalans 66/1 Hull KR 100/1 Salford 100/1 Widnes 100/1 My answers: 1. Hull KR. 2. Leigh away in the Challenge Cup and knocking them out - posted a fantastic early marker and showed we had the beating of them at an early stage. There is no doubt in my mind that that victory laid the foundations to promotion there and then. Not just mentally for us, giving us a lift in confidence, but mentally to them, knowing that we had the firepower to oust them on their own turf. Leigh away in the middle 8s, another strong win. The actual win that took us up against Widnes was just an unbearable event. Truly unbearable. I could barely watch but when Lunt wrapped up the final tackle...well...many a beers were downed just to stop the shakes! 3. To be in the top 8. Pundits may mock (I'm looking at you here Schofield...) but I really think our chances of the top 8 are strong. Our team is so much better than the one that got so pathetically relegated two years ago. 4. Danny McGuire. Say no more really. Really looking forwards to seeing the slimmed down and fitter Mose Masoe play in the red and white too. Tackle busting prop and was immense for us in the last few games. Justin Carney is also such a beast of a human being, it really is a pleasure watching him play. He gets bad press for things over the years but every time I've seen him play he has been extremely calm, assured, quiet and just gets on with his job, no back talk, just composed. Sheens seems to have got him sorted mentally and he seems in a good place and not in the slightest prone to wind ups. He's just a wrecking ball though, bringing the ball back he can easily take on the role of a forward! Andrew Heffernan, our new centre last year is absolutely top class too, he will fit right into SL. One of our young new halfs from Swinton, Chris Atkin is a real prospect too. Paid a £100k fee to them last year which practically saved them from insolvency and got us a great player. He's a right bustler, hassler, terrior, always busy and has massive potential. A bright player. 5. Tough one this year, Saints I reckon. 6. Wakefield. Even under Chris Chester I think they have recruited very well again and despite their woeful ground, their team seems to perform. 7. Difficult to know whether the 8s format will stay this year, particularly with the rumours of SL heading back to 14 teams at the very least, making way for Toronto and Leigh? SL is getting very close to the point of NEEDING Toronto. Controversial I know, but it may be necessary and it won't stop there. Anyone disagree should listen to the RL on RY Podcast interview with Phil Caplan. That man talks so much sense and is a realist. If the picture looks grim, that's because it is, and to scowl at clubs like Toronto for being eager, enthusiastic, outspoken is jus naïve. They ARE putting their money where their mouth is, funding the production costs for their televised games and have done more to raise the profile of RL than all of the SL teams put together last year, on an international scale. And, as much as I hate to say it, clubs like Featherstone, Whitehaven/Workington, Dewsbury, Batley et al are all very small towns with very small crowd potentials and therefore absolutely minimal advertising potential, investment potential or interest nationally. All of which is required to grow the game. I can see Toronto in an expanded SL, but to ensure their longevity, they must have another NA team in the league to entice bigger tv deals and give the NA clubs more meaning. A lot aren't going to like it....but what's the future? Accept that we are what we are, Sky lose interest and don't show RL anymore....then what? Grass roots and getting kids playing is art of the solution, but its only a very small part. If you look after the pinnacle of the sport, the SL, and make sure the teams within it are as strong and sustainable as they can be, the rest of the sport should be able to look after itself. Without the big clubs, there is no tv deal, no publicity, lower participation at amateur levels. That's why, amongst other reasons outlined in my previous post, that expansion will be absolutely key going forwards. 8. 8 or higher will do me....it will be more crucial than ever to stay out of the middle 8s, Toronto and Leigh have both recruited well and the Wolfpack will be on the warpath at the end of the season, particularly if they finish top 2, which I think they will. 9. Perhaps squad depth. If we can get our first 17 out as many times as possible then we have a great chance of winning any game. Lose a few and we may start to dip. We still have 2 quota spots remaining though and we are reported to be getting 2 overseas signings in before the season start so watch this space I guess. Sheens is a very astute coach and I have total faith in his abilities. Something I've not been able to say about a Rovers coach in a long time. He just knows what's going on, the right things to say, played his cards beautifully last season peaking for just the right time and doing the job every time he and his team were called upon. He doesn't talk BS either! Says it like he sees it. 10. Perhaps fair to the uneducated! Haha! If we finish 8th it would have been a wonderful season.