After a truncated 2020 season blighted by disruption, excitement is growing amongst rugby league fans for the 2021 campaign already. With the new Super League expected to start on 11 March, fans are hopeful that they can soon be back in attendance to watch their team in action at their favourite venues.
Fans are also looking forward to seeing the yearly roster of young talent which emerges each season. The Super League is a fearsome place for any young sportsman, so any aspiring prospect who can make a name for themselves immediately attracts the attention of the rugby league faithful.
Here’s some of the best young stars we think could take the sport by storm in 2021.
The Manchester born Irish international prop forward has spent time on loan at Workington, Leigh and Swinton, gaining experience throughout the less salubrious tiers of English Rugby League. He is now ready to make his name for his parent club Wigan Warriors, and add to his limited number of appearances in the Super League.
Standing tall at 6ft 2, the 21 year old is highly rated by his Wigan boss Adrian Lam, and fans of the Warriors will be interested to see whether Byrne can reward the faith that Lam has shown in him with some dominant performances.
Another product of the Wigan academy, Smithies is somewhat higher up the pecking order than his teammate Liam Byrne. An established part of Lam’s side already, the 20 year old can perhaps count his childhood job shearing sheep on the family farm in helping to develop his wily strength.
The back-rower is quickly becoming a terrace favourite at The DW Stadium, and there’s no reason why he can’t continue to reap the accolades, and progress his career. England captaincy could follow, and if he keeps his head straight, Morgan Smithies can become one of the country’s best players.
A young player who needs no introduction, it’s almost unbelievable to think Trueman is still only 21, considering how long he has been part of the fabric of Daryl Powell’s Castleford Tigers.
Named Young Player of the Year at the 2018 Man of Steel awards, Trueman’s skillset has continued to grow, and with the arrival of Danny Richardson at Castleford, a truly dynamic half-back pairing has developed. When his club captain Michael Shenton described him as Castleford’s best player, you know that you’re dealing with a special talent.
The adaptable St Helens youngster featured as a full back for most of the 2020 season, despite spending most of his short career so far as a stand-off. Aged just 19, Welsby is already becoming known for the wide range of positions he is able to make his own, and can also play at scrum-half. That versatility should help keep him within coach Kristian Woolf’s first 13, and his dramatic Super League Grand Final winning try will do him no harm in his developing career.
St Helens will be one of the most fancied clubs to secure the Super League title next term and if they are to rule rugby league next season then Welsby will be integral to that success.
With the news that Featherstone Rovers could soon be welcomed into the Super League for next season, our last entry on the list is somewhat of a wildcard. However, given that he made a fine impact in his first stint at Rovers, and he is now set to return to the Millennium Stadium, our final hopeful is Aussie Connor Jones.
Although not quite as young as some our candidates so far, the 25-year-old hooker became a big favourite with Featherstone fans after arriving at the club from Queensland’s Northern Pride midway through the 2019 season, His performances paved the way for a move to Salford, but after just five Super League appearances he has agreed to return to Featherstone for next season.
Strong, and quick in both thought and speed, he will no doubt be looking to make a stronger impression in the top flight if Rovers are awarded Super League status for the 2021 campaign.
Rugby League Betting odds for the 2021 Season
As we look ahead to next season, although the odds for Regular season winner and Super League Grand Final winner have yet to be fully confirmed, it’s likely that regular contenders such as Liam Byrne’s Wigan and of course St Helens are likely to be favourites for the top prize.
Away from the UK Super League, Australian Rugby betting fans excited for the return of Australia’s NRL can now get in on the action with odds for the opening round of fixtures next March now readily available. For example, Melbourne Storm can be baked at 4/6 with a bet where you don’t lose your deposit to beat South Sydney Rabbitohs in their opening clash.
Of course we will all be hoping that international rugby returns sooner or later too and you can be sure to find all the latest international rugby news right here.