There could not be a better opening game to the 2022 Betfred Super League season than Thursday’s clash between St Helens and Catalans Dragons.
The defending champions, versus the side they beat in last year’s Grand Final, is a fixture to increase the heartbeat.
There will be new signings aplenty on show for both sides and in some pivotal positions too.
Take Saints and their new recruits Will Hopoate, Curtis Sironen, Joey Lussick and Konrad Hurrell, all of whom look set to feature.
February 8, 2022
Catalans are also poised to hand debuts to NRL imports Mitchell Pearce, Dylan Napa and Tyrone May.
St Helens are aiming to win a fourth successive Super League title this season and, given the immense depth, talent and experience within their squad, odds of 9/4 with Betfred to do so represent great value.
Can anyone realistically stop Kristian Woolf’s side from retaining the crown?
If any team can, Steve McNamara’s Dragons look best placed to do so.
The French club are 6/1 with Betfred to prevail at Old Trafford on September 24 in the end-of-season title decider.
But there is also plenty of value to be had when they meet at the Totally Wicked Stadium, particularly on the game’s first try-scorer.
Saints and England winger Tommy Makinson is reliably consistent and prolific, so odds of 9/1 with Paddy Power are tempting.
Then again, so too is the price of 30/1 with bet365 for Pearce to be the man who claims the first try of the new campaign.
Given his playmaking qualities, that is certainly not a price to be sniffed at.
Pearce is also right at the top of the bookies’ list of Man of Steel winners for this season an you can get 14/1 with Betfred for the Aussie star to claim the game’s highest individual prize.
Lussick, meanwhile, the former Salford hooker, is also 7/2 with Paddy Power to be an any-time try-scorer during the game.
He is likely to come off the bench to replace legendary Saints captain James Roby during the game.
Like all good hookers, Lussick has a penchant for diving over from dummy half.
The talismanic Roby himself is worth a flutter at 4/1 with William Hill as an any-time try-scorer.