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Super League XV club-by-club guide

Leeds Rhinos celebrate winning the 2009 Super League Grand Final
Leeds Rhinos celebrate beating St Helens to secure their third successive Super League title

The new Super League season begins on Friday with Leeds Rhinos looking to win their fourth consecutive title.

Out to stop them will be usual suspects St Helens and Wigan, while Challenge Cup winners Warrington and last year's club of the year Huddersfield will also fancy their chances.

This year also sees Welsh side Crusaders switch to Wrexham with former Great Britain and Wigan coach Brian Noble at the helm.

Here is BBC Sport's club-by-club guide.

BRADFORD BULLS

How did they do last year? Badly. The 2009 season was one to forget for the Bulls, as they failed to qualify for the Super League play-offs for the first time since they were introduced in 1998 and went out of the Challenge Cup in the fourth round at the hands of Catalans.

Bradford Bulls coach Steve McNamara

Who is in charge? Former academy boss Steve McNamara was given the top job at the Grattan in 2006 following Brian Noble's departure to Wigan. The luck he had with injuries last year did not help his cause and he will be looking for an improvement in fortunes in 2010 as the Bulls look to make their first Grand Final since 2005.

Bradford Bulls half-back Matt Orford

Who is their man of steel? Losing Sam Burgess to the NRL and scrum-half Paul Deacon to Wigan means that there will be greater pressure on the others to deliver. The arrival of Australian half-back Matt Orford to partner Brett Kearney means that the Bulls will have the guile to unlock any defence.

How will they do? "The Bulls will have learned from the experience of a poor 2009," says BBC Radio Leeds' James Deighton. "They will be eager to prove that they are still one of the top sides in the Super League."

You can follow the Bulls with BBC Radio Leeds on 92.4 FM, 774 AM, DAB and online

CASTLEFORD

How did they do last year? The Tigers timed their run to perfection to qualify for the play-offs in seventh spot, but they were ultimately disappointed to bow out in week one of the end-of-season bonanza.

Castleford Tigers coach Terry Matterson

Who is in charge? Australian Terry Matterson has been in charge at The Jungle since 2005. Has had an unusual start to the year by losing a finger in a freak accident in pre-season training. If the Tigers can emulate his bravery and toughness they will not go far wrong.

Castelford Tigers half-back Rangi Chase

Who is their man of steel? Kiwi half-back Rangi Chase has more X-factor than Cheryl Cole. As unpredictable as he is brilliant, he missed the Tigers' pre-season training camp in Catalans because his dog ate his visa. If he can stay fit, Castleford will not be short of an attacking threat.

How will they do? "Castleford are one of the Super League's most entertaining sides, but leak as many points as they score," says BBC Radio Leeds' James Deighton. "If they can shore up their defence, the Tigers could roar in 2010."

You can follow the Tigers with BBC Radio Leeds on 92.4 FM, 774 AM, DAB and online

CATALANS

How did they do last year? Overcame a poor start to the season to beat St Helens in their final league game to reach the play-offs for the second consecutive year. Claimed superb away wins over Challenge Cup finalists Huddersfield and Wakefield in the knock-out stages to reach the semi-finals and were part of history by being the team selected by Leeds in the Club Call initiative. They found the Rhinos too strong in the last four but can be pleased with their end-of-season form.

Catalans coach Kevin Walters

Who is in charge? Australian Kevin Walters is now in his second season with the club and the former Brisbane Broncos great will be hoping his side can build on their play-off experiences and finally come away with a trophy.

Catalans Dragons scrum-half Thomas Bosc

Who is their man of steel? Scrum-half Thomas Bosc is at the heart of everything the Dragons do. As well as being their goal kicker, the Frenchman's creativity is also frequently utilised. Bosc highlighted his brilliance last season with a try against Harlequins, when he kicked through twice before grounding the ball.

How will they do this year? "A play-off place is definitely within the capabilities of the Dragons," says BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson. "They have recruited well with Dallas Johnson, Setaimata Sa and Chris Walker all coming in and few teams will relish the now familiar trip to Perpignan. However, the Dragons' own away form will also be important."

You can follow the Dragons on the BBC Sport website

CRUSADERS

How did they do last year? It was a disappointing inaugural season for the Welsh side, who lost their first 11 games and only recorded three league wins all season. The end of the season was overshadowed by issues off the field with six players deported because of visa irregularities.

Crusaders' coach Brian Noble

Who is in charge? Former Wigan and Great Britain coach Brian Noble takes over as head coach after parting company with the Warriors at the end of last season. Noble is reunited with his former GB assistant Jon Sharp, who will be the first-team coach, with former dual-code international Iestyn Harris as assistant.

Crusaders' Lincoln Withers

Who is their man of steel? Australian Lincoln Withers scored six tries in 22 games for the Crusaders last season, but more will be required from him this term. Equally adept at half-back or hooker, the former Canberra Raiders, Wests Tigers and St George-Illawarra man's experience will be vital.

How will they do? "Despite the experience of Noble, it looks like being another difficult season for the Welsh outfit, with delays over player recruitment and the move from Bridgend to Wrexham casting a shadow over pre-season preparations," says BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson. "The bookies have them as odds-on favourites to finish bottom of the table and it is hard to disagree."

You can follow the Crusaders on the BBC Sport website

HARLEQUINS

How did they do last year? Disappointingly. After winning 10 of their first 15 games, Harlequins then won just one of the final 12 to finish a long way off the play-offs in 11th place. Won only four times at home all season and the RFL have told them that attendances at The Stoop need to improve.

Harlequins coach Brian McDermott

Who's in charge? Former marine Brian McDermott is in his fourth season in charge, two years in to a three-year contract. After steering them clear of relegation in 2006, he has failed to secure a play-off place since, but the coaching job in London is about much more than on-field success. McDermott is excited by the work he does with the community and amateur game in the South and recognises it as an integral part of sustaining the sport outside of the heartlands. Likes his side to play a fast, flowing game, which, when produced, can make them a match for anyone in the Super League.

Harlequins hooker Chad Randall

Who is their man of steel? With Harlequins hit by injuries to seven players, much will depend on hooker and interim captain Chad Randall. He is well known to be the heart of the Quins attack and last year missed his first game in over three-and-a-half years, having made 101 consecutive appearances. With the medium-term injury problems and changes to the squad over the winter, big things will be expect of the London-born and bred prop Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook and centre Tony Clubb.

How will they do? "A top-eight finish is far from impossible," says BBC London's Ian Ramsdale. "But with the personnel changes and no big-name additions there will be a lot of reliance on a young and relatively inexperienced side. They are potential dark horses, but crucial to this will be getting bodies on the pitch in the second half of the season. The first 10 rounds, with key men absent, could define their season."

You can follow Harlequins with BBC London on 92.9 FM, DAB and online as well as getting the London Rugby League podcast every Thursday.

HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS

How did they do last year? 2009 was undoubtedly a success for Huddersfield, with a third-place finish in the table and an appearance in the Challenge Cup final leading the Giants to be named Super League club of the year.

Huddersfield Giants coach Nathan Brown

Who is in charge? Laid-back Australian Nathan Brown was named coach of the year in 2009 and will be keen to build on the success he enjoyed in his first season at the Galpharm. Became the youngest coach in NRL history when he took charge of St George-Illawarra in 2003 at the age of 29 and now, despite being only 36, has the experience to show last year's success was not a fluke.

Huddersfield Giants' Brett Hodgson

Who is their man of steel? The 2009 Super League man of steel, Brett Hodgson. The Giants' captain was outstanding in his first season in Yorkshire and will once again be looked to for inspiration. While he was playing with Wests Tigers in the NRL an Australian toy manufacturer immortalised him in plastic - that does not happen unless you are a special player.

How will they do? "It will be tough to improve on last year but the Giants have the coach and squad that have the ability to do just that," says BBC Radio Leeds' James Deighton. "To do so, the Giants will either have to finish in the top two or win the Challenge Cup. A tall order, but Brown will not be fazed."

You can follow the Giants with BBC Radio Leeds on 92.4 FM, 774 AM, DAB and online

HULL FC

How did they do last year? A season that started with five successive victories was eventually ruined by injuries, leading to a 12th-placed finish. If this wasn't bad enough, they were eight places behind their oldest enemies, cross-city rivals Hull KR.

Hull FC coach Richard Agar

Who is in charge? Starting his second full season as head coach, Richard Agar will be looking to put the difficulties of 2009 behind him. He took over in 2008 and immediately led Hull to the Challenge Cup final and is more than capable of leading the Airlie Birds to more success.

Hull FC scrum-half Sean Long

Who is their man of steel? Vastly experienced scrum-half Sean Long has made the switch from St Helens to Yorkshire and will bring enthusiasm and class to the KC Stadium. Has tasted success in the Super League, World Club Challenge and the Challenge Cup in a glittering career.

How will they do? "After underachieving in the past two seasons, it is inconceivable that Hull won't put it right this year," says BBC Radio Humberside's Gwilym Lloyd. "With a pack that looks as good as anything in the Super League and Long as the fulcrum, I expect them to finish in the top six and there's no reason why they can't do better than that."

You can follow Hull FC with BBC Radio Humberside on 95.9 FM, 1485 AM, DAB and online

HULL KR

How did they do last year? A tremendous campaign saw them finish fourth in the table, but fans may be wondering what might have been had Rovers not lost their last three games of the season, including play-off defeats to Leeds and Wigan.

Hull KR coach Justin Morgan

Who is in charge? Former Toulouse coach Justin Morgan has revitalised Rovers since moving to Craven Park in 2005. In 2006 he guided them to promotion from National League One and to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup. Steady progress has been made since then, culminating in last year's success.

Hull KR full-back Shaun Briscoe

Who is their man of steel? Former Wigan full-back Shaun Briscoe established himself as England's first choice during an impressive Four Nations campaign. Calm and experienced, Rovers fans will be expecting more of a player who is reaching his peak.

How will they do? "The Robins will do well to register another top-four finish, but that will be Morgan's target," says BBC Radio Humberside's Gwilym Lloyd. "He believes he can build on what was achieved last year, but much will depend on the big-name players staying fit."

You can follow Rovers with BBC Radio Humberside on 95.9 FM, 1485 AM, DAB and online

LEEDS RHINOS

How did they do last year? Confirmed their status as the number one team in the land by winning their third successive title, beating St Helens in the Grand Final at Old Trafford, becoming the first club to win three consecutive Super League titles in the process.

Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McClennan

Who is in charge? Likeable Kiwi Brian McClennan took over after Tony Smith had led the Rhinos to Grand Final success and promptly led them to two crowns of his own, becoming the club's first ever back-to-back title-winning coach. The affection the players have for him is laid bare on the pitch.

Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield

Who is their man of steel? It is hard to pick one stand-out player in a team that contains Rob Burrow, Jamie Peacock and Keith Senior as well as new arrivals Greg Eastwood and Brett Delaney, but captain Kevin Sinfield is the glue that holds the Rhinos together and is a true leader of men.

How will they do? "It's hard to bet against them making it four in a row," says BBC Radio Leeds' James Deighton. "With New Zealand international Eastwood finally arriving at Headingley and keen to add to his World Cup winner's medal, silverware will again be expected in 2010."

You can follow the Rhinos with BBC Radio Leeds on 92.4 FM, 774 AM, DAB and online

SALFORD CITY REDS

How did they do last year? After a year in National League One, 2009's return to Super League was always going to test Salford's resources to the limit. The Reds finished 13th with just seven wins as they readjusted to life back among the elite. Victories against Leeds Rhinos and St Helens proved that they can raise their game to compete with the best - they just need to do it more often.

Salford Reds' coach Shaun McRae

Who is in charge? Australian coach Shaun McRae is the experienced hand on the tiller. He led St Helens to the first summer rugby league title along with two Challenge Cups. Has undoubtedly reversed the Reds' decline since taking over in summer 2007 and fans will be confident he can guide them to a higher finish this time out.

Who is their man of steel? At 21, the best years ofStefan Ratchford are still ahead of him but the stand-off has already made a big impression in Super League. Blessed with vision and creativity, he scored nine tries in 25 appearances during the 2009 season and was just as active in carving out scoring chances for his team-mates.

How will they do? "Having readjusted to Super League intensity during 2009 the Reds will be looking for much better than 13th this time out," says BBC Sport's Andrew Toft. "If everything clicks do not rule out a top-eight place and a good Challenge Cup run."

You can follow the Reds with BBC Radio Manchester on 95.1 FM, DAB and online

ST HELENS

How did they do last year? Were defeated in a third successive Grand Final by Leeds Rhinos, but, considering that the side was beginning to break up after years of constant success and many youngsters were drafted into the team, this should be seen as some achievement.

St Helens coach Mick Potter

Who is in charge? Former Catalans coach Mick Potter faces another tricky season as he tries to blend youth and experience. A shrewd operator who likes to play an open game, which suits his side and gives him every chance of tasting success.

St Helens prop James Graham

Who is their man of steel? Prop forward James Graham is an enforcer whose youth, fitness and enthusiasm allow him to play for the full 80 minutes when needed. Ever willing to perform the hard work in midfield, he has, over the past 12 months, developed his passing game and developed into a complete player.

How will they do? "Saints will still be rebuilding this season and their side will still consist of young talent and experienced internationals," says BBC Radio Merseyside's Ray French. "They will probably not dominate the Super League like they have in previous years but still be difficult to beat and could win a trophy."

You can follow the Saints with BBC Radio Merseyside on 95.8 FM, 1485 AM, DAB and online

WAKEFIELD TRINITY WILDCATS

How did they do last year? Despite many thinking that they would struggle, Wakefield surged to a fifth-placed finish but ended the year with a disappointing play-off defeat at home to Catalans.

Wakefield coach John Kear

Who is in charge? Known as King Kear by fans of the Wildcats, John Kear consistently gets the best out of his players. Arrived at Belle Vue in 2006 to save Wakefield from relegation and has taken them from strength to strength.

Wakefield Wildcats captain Jason Demetriou

Who is their man of steel? Captain Jason Demetriou joined the Wildcats from Widnes after the 2003 season and has stuck with them through thick and thin. A fierce competitor and inspirational leader to his team-mates.

How will they do? "There's no doubt that the Wildcats will make the top eight," says BBC Radio Leeds' James Deighton. "An improvement on last year is not out of the question, while a good run in the Challenge Cup is also possible."

You can follow the Wildcats with BBC Radio Leeds on 92.4 FM, 774 AM, DAB and online

WARRINGTON WOLVES

How did they do last year? Endured a shocking start to the season under James Lowes, leading to the appointment of Tony Smith. Although he could not turn their form around enough to lead the Wolves to a play-off place, they did win the Challenge Cup with victory over Huddersfield at Wembley.

Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith

Who is in charge? Now without the distractions of being England coach, Smith can give his full attention to the Wolves. He pledged to promote fast, expansive and open rugby and will encourage his players to attack and entertain.

Warrington Wolves captain Adrian Morley

Who is their man of steel? Captain Adrian Morley is a vastly experienced, tough forward who has, over the past 10 seasons, mixed it in the pack with the best in England and Australia. A genuine leader who asks others to follow his example.

How will they do? "Warrington have bought well and will be full of confidence following their Challenge Cup success," says BBC Radio Merseyside's Ray French. "If Lee Briers and Michael Monaghan can stay fit throughout the season they have the craft in midfield to create try-scoring chances. Expected to finish the season in the top four play-off places."

You can follow the Wolves with BBC Radio Manchester 95.1 FM and DAB, BBC Radio Merseyside on 95.8 FM, 1485 AM, DAB and online

WIGAN WARRIORS

How did they do last year? Recovered from a poor start to reach the play-off semi-finals. This may be considered a success for other sides, but it has been too long since the Warriors captured any silverware, hence the departure of coach Brian Noble when his contract expired.

Who is in charge? Former Melbourne Storm assistant coach Michael Maguire arrives at the DW Stadium to take his first job in Super League. Has already made his mark with the decision to appoint a team of captains, rather than just one man, and has put his players through a punishing pre-season schedule.

Who is their man of steel? The Warriors have several players that could have a big influence on their season. Sam Tomkins seems set for another impressive year, Pat Richards, after initially struggling to settle, produced consistent performances last season, while Stuart Fielden needs to hit his straps in the final season of his contract.

How will they do? "They've gone close in the past couple of years, but have fallen in the final stages of the Challenge Cup and the play-offs," says BBC Radio Manchester's Jack Dearden. "If they get off to a good start, which I expect them to, confidence will grow. Injuries permitting, this could be the dawning of a new era for the Warriors."

You can follow the Warriors with BBC Radio Manchester on 95.1 FM, DAB and online



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see also
Super League fixtures
23 Mar 07 |  Fixtures
Rugby league commentaries
03 Apr 10 |  Rugby League
O'Hara is named Crusaders captain
26 Jan 10 |  Crusaders
Catalans name Bosc as new captain
23 Jan 10 |  Catalans
Quins can become giants - Randall
20 Jan 10 |  Harlequins
Morley craves more Wolves success
19 Jan 10 |  Warrington
Randall will captain Harlequins
19 Jan 10 |  Harlequins
Castleford coach loses his finger
18 Jan 10 |  Castleford
Wigan Warriors to rotate captains
12 Jan 10 |  Wigan
Long is named new Hull FC captain
11 Jan 10 |  Hull
Wigan sign Deacon from Bradford
16 Nov 09 |  Wigan
Noble unveiled as Crusaders coach
14 Oct 09 |  Crusaders
St Helens 10-18 Leeds Rhinos
10 Oct 09 |  Rugby League
Warriors appoint Maguire as coach
08 Oct 09 |  Wigan
Hull FC sign Saints veteran Long
01 Jun 09 |  Hull
Super League Show
17 Feb 08 |  Rugby League


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