A mixture of new signings, youngsters and players returning from injury. We take a look at 10 players to watch out for in the 2020 Super League season.
Sonny Bill Williams
When Toronto Wolfpack announced the signing of Williams back in November, there was an understandable buzz in the world of rugby league. The Wolfpack’s marquee signing will not only bring his brand of exciting rugby to Super League but also a legion of fans, excited to see the New Zealander in action in the sport for the first time since 2014. His competitive Toronto debut will come against Castleford Tigers on February 2 and it is sure to be a momentous occasion.
Having moved to Australia as a 16-year-old, the England international has spent the entirety of his career so far playing in the NRL. But he will finally make his Super League bow in 2020 as one of Warrington Wolves’ marquee players. His half-back partnership with Blake Austin is definitely one that should excite and could help the Wolves improve on their fourth placed finish from 2019. However, fans will have to wait for his debut, with a lower limb injury ruling him out of the first three rounds of the season.
The winger was joint-top of the Super League’s try-scoring charts when he ruptured his knee ligaments against Hull FC in March. It was an injury that ruled him out for the rest of the season, but Johnstone is back fully fit heading into 2020 and scored on his return to the Wakefield Trinity side, in an 18-6 pre-season win over Hull KR. Trinity will be hoping he can recapture his form of 2018, where he scored 24 Super League tries.
James Roby has been ruled out of St Helens’ first few matches of the season and that should give Smith an opportunity to impress at hooker for Saints. The 23-year-old made 16 appearances in 2019 but should be in line for more opportunities to impress if Roby is out longer than expected or his workload managed throughout the campaign.
Ma’u arrives at Hull FC following a 2019 that saw him nominated for the Daily M Second-Row of the Year award and having been part of a Tongan side that defeated both Great Britain and Australia. A physical and abrasive player, Ma’u should add a new dimension to the FC forward pack. Could well be the difference maker in their quest for a play-off berth.
After being named in the 2018 Super League Dream Team, 2019 did not go exactly to plan for Richardson. He made just 12 appearances and lost his place to Theo Fages. But he now has a new club having joined Castleford Tigers and will want to get back to playing regularly under Darryl Powell.
The half-back arrives at Catalans Dragons off the back of an illustrious career in Australia. Maloney won two NRL titles and was part of the Australian squad that won the 2017 World Cup. He cited Steve McNamara as one of the key influencers in his decision to move to the Dragons and he will be looking to repay the faith that his new boss has shown in him.
Many of Salford Red Devils’ stars from their run to the Grand Final have now departed the club, so extra responsibility will fall on Lussick. The Australian hooker showed in his maiden season with the Red Devils just how much of a game-changer he is and could well be the man to ignite them once more in 2020.
2019 was a breakthrough year for the Wigan Warriors teenager. He burst onto the scene after making his debut against Catalans in March and broke the Super League record for most tackles in a match, with 72 tackles against Salford in September. There are a number of exciting youngsters to look out for in 2020 and Smithies is up there with the very best of them.
How Gale performs on his return to his boyhood club is likely to be one of the bigger stories in this Super League season. Leeds Rhinos need an injection of quality after an indifferent couple of years and they will hope that Gale is the man to provide it. However, the 2017 Man of Steel did not play for Castleford due to injury in 2019, so it may take a few games for the 31-year-old to show his best form.