Super League Preview
Super League is finally back and with it comes my outrights. Las year my outrights were my most frustrating bets. We got value on Houghton top tackler and Burgess top Wigan tryscorer but both go injured. The NRL was a little more disappointing with the Cowboys not even finishing in the playoffs. The Thurston Dally M winner bet was a tough loss to take. A big media narrative developed over how he’d fallen off. He ended the season with one of the highest attacking productiveness of any player on any team. Up there with the likes of Ponga and Cook (the eventual winner).
Over the off season I’ve really got better at working wih RL data and put a lot of work in to establish what is really going on out there. I’ve done a lot of work to establish better ball carrying and defensive efficiency metrics at the player level. In the long term I hope to engage a lot more modelling and automation into what I do as well as feel for the sport I have from watching the volume of games I do. Last year I estimate I watched over 300 rugby league games. For the season ahead I feel well prepared for the rule changes coming in Super League and the NRL in the new seasons.
As the NRL doesn’t start until March lets turn our attention to the Super League. As of writing some of the team markets aren’t out yet apart from on BetVictor so on some I’m gonna be waiting for the bookies to catch up before I get down on anything.
In the meantime lets look at the main outrights.
Grand Final Winner.
When it comes to the league Saints open as favourites with Wigan and Warrington close behind, with Castleford and Leeds just behind the top 3.
All these teams come with problems. Leeds and Wigan have new coaches to adjust to. Cas have lost star half Luke Gale for the season, Saints have lost Man of Steel Barba and Warrington still have goal kicker issues and some issues with their game plan.
Of these teams I can’t take Cas. I still expect them to do well this year but we’ve seen in tougher defensive games they’ve really struggled and with Minikin in for Webster I have big question marks over. On top of this Luke Gale is a big loss. While the Tigers have cap space to recruit a replacement for Gale I cant see themselves bringing anyone in of sufficient quality. Gale was their go to game management guy and goal kicker and thats not an easy skill to replace at an elite level.
The 2nd team I want to oppose are Saints. The favourites were one of the best teams in the league last year but I just have so many concerns. Barba is gone. He was responsible for 28 tries and 24 try assists last year and Coote doesn’t come with that level of productivity. Defensively too there are big question marks. My model has Danny Richardson as the worst defensive half in the league. It doesn’t rate Percival either and think Naiqama is a downgrade on Morgan defensively. Thirdly line Speed. Last year anytime a team got inside line speed they collapsed.
That leaves us with Leeds, Wigan and Warrington. Lets talk about Leeds. My big worry here is game management. Neither half has a reputation for it and Leeds looked the worst side in the whole league last year at managing a game.That rules them out.
That leaves 2. Wigan and Warrington. Both these sides contested last years Grand Final and its hard to argue against that this year. Warrington have replaced Tyrone Roberts with Blake Austin (whose deservedly favourite to win player of the year in his 1st season). For a goal kicker they look like they’ll be stuck with either Ratchford or Goodwin which isn’ good but the talent on the rest of the team makes up for it. Warrington had the 2nd most efficient defensive edge last year and have plenty of metres from their wingers. Their pack look good and I cant find much fault with them.
So to Wigan. New coach Lam is the unknown variable here. No team were as impressive defensively as the Warriors last year with two halves ranking inside the top 5 best defensively. Sarginson put up great defensive numbers from centre with Gildart also above average and although they’ve lost Sam Tomkins, Hardaker and Escare are plenty productive. If Shaun Wane was still coach I’d be heavily backing Wigan. As it is, the question is will Lam mess this up? The thing is Wigan were so good last year he can sort of afford to. And so Wigan become our other back in the ouright market.
I think backing both Warrington and Wigan leaves us with two really nice trade out spots. Basically if we just get one of these teams to the fial we’ll get paid and for this reason I’m gonna play the GF winner market raher than the league.
The Outsider to keep Onside
This is the section I put myself up for ridicule but here it is. I really like Hull KR. The Robins boast a halves pairing of Danny McGuire and Josh Drinkwater. That’s elite. They also have Garbutt Masoe ad Mulhern as props again elite. They’re much more defensively efficient than a Hull FC and have good numbers. I think they’ve got a real outside chance for 5th at 9/1 but I’ll take the 50/1 on them in the Challenge Cup instead.
Man of Steel
With Man of Steel set to be an NRL like competition with points awarded weekly rather than at the end I think we need to think halves. Looking at the Albert Goldthorpe Medal basically the model were going for its been won by halves in 9/10 seasons. There are two guys that I like for this. The 1st is the favourite Blake Austin. Austin was a line breaking try scoring machine in the NRL and those defences are uch tougher. Hes an outside chance for top tryscorer for me and I cant oppose him even as the favourite. The only other player I want on side is George Williams. 33/1 best priced with Skybet. Williams is the premier half on the defending champions team. He’s an England international and playing in a competition with a higher likelihood of going to a half so has to be sided with.
I’ve not got a lot to say about this market I was gonna go massive on Eden top tryscorer even at 5/1, Thought this was like 3% stake worthy then Gale got injured and now its just not value enough to do anything. I like the idea of getting on Leeds’ left winger each way but as we don’t know who that is yet I’m leaving this all together
Hull KR v Hull FC 1st February
Finally I’m gonna be tipping one game bet early doors. As I’ve already said I like Hull KR this year and they’re playing Hull FC in the 1st round at home. Hull FC are to me the most overvalued team this season. Last year not a single one of their players put up even average defensive metrics in their position. On top of this KR look severely undervalued and this is a really good spot to buy teams. Most tipsters rightly advise being cautious week 1 but how often in week 1 as a bettor do you get your most overvalued team v the most undervalued team? I set the fair handicap line a significant 8 points different to the market.
Grand Final Winner
Odds: 4/1 Marathon, Betway, Betbright, Bwin, SportingBet
Grand Final Winner
Odds: 11/2 Betway 5/1 10Bet Ladbrokes WilliamHill SportNation.Bet
Challenge Cup Winner
Selection: Hull KR
Odds: 50/1 Ladbrokes Coral Unibet 888
Man of Steel
Selection: Blake Austin
Odds: 9 Betfred WillHill 8 BoyleSports
Man of Steel
Selection: George Williams
Odds: 34 SkyBet
Hull KR v Hull FC
Bet: Hull KR 1-10
Odds: 4 Ladbrokes 3.75 Betfair/PP on 1/12