Wigan and St Helens set to continue dominance as Super League prepares for seismic change
The wind of change swept through Super League last season as St Helens saw their four-year status as domestic top dogs brought to an end by Matt Peet’s resurgent Wigan Warriors and “reimagination” became the buzzword on everybody’s lips.
If Saints’ memorable World Club Challenge win over Penrith that kicked off the 2023 campaign did not exactly explode the sport’s established order, it certainly helped tilt its axis slightly more in the direction of the northern hemisphere.
The beginning of the sport’s long-term ‘strategic partnership’ with IMG, along with recent announcements of ground-breaking new broadcast deals with Sky and the BBC, has also fostered a real mood of optimism ahead of the 2024 campaign, which kicks off with the Hull derby at the MKM Stadium on Thursday night.
Yet the more things change, the more they stay the same. Saints and Wigan, the two giants from the west end of the so-called M62 corridor, appear more likely than ever to be wrestling for the top spot at the end of the season, underscoring their dominance of the domestic game.
At the other end of the table, London Broncos face the farcical situation of knowing their fate – relegation – before the first ball has been booted, an unfortunate consequence of the very IMG grading system that has been set up to support aspiring clubs from beyond the traditional heartlands.
They are timely reminders that it will take more than a magic wand to re-think the scope of a sport that even the biggest cynics of its partnership with IMG acknowledge requires radical change if it is to continue to thrive into future generations.
The upcoming season begins with plenty of tantalising talking points on the pitch, led by the strength of Saints’ response to being knocked off