St Helens

Stadium: The Totally Wicked Stadium
Coach: Justin Holbrook
Last season’s finish: League Leaders Shield winners

7/2 with Betfred to win the 2019 Grand Final

Scotland international Coote joins the Saints for 2019

It was a case of ‘so near and yet so far’ for Saints last year as they fell agonisingly short of a shot at the Grand Final, losing to Warrington in the Semis.

Holbrook’s side were the form team early on, sweeping all in their path, and inspired by the superb Ben Barba they quickly established themselves at the clear favourites to be crowned champions.

Having wrapped up a play-off spot, and then the League Leaders’ shield with relative ease, Saints looked a good bet to make it a Super League double at Old Trafford, but ultimately disaster struck as they came unstuck at the hands of the Wolves.

Saints fans will be hoping that their side are stronger for this experience and, despite the departure of Barba, lift their first Betfred Super League title since 2014.

There’s plenty of reasons to suggest that they could just that as well. The signings of Kevin Naiqama and Lachlan Coote in themselves are big signals of intent that will have their rivals worried.

Coote comes in as a direct replacement for Barba, and the Scotland international brings with him plenty of big game experience having won the 2015 NRL title with the North Queensland Cowboys, for whom he made over 80 appearances for.

Fiji captain Naiqama is a hugely exciting talent who could light up the Betfred Super League in 2019. The former West Tigers’ star can play across the backline and provides a threat from anywhere on the field with his power and superb ball skills.

With Naiqama linking up with an already impressive three-quarters line, boasting the likes of Regan Grace and Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson, Saints could be set for an extremely high-scoring season in 2019.

In the forwards, Holbrook has bought in backrower Joseph Paulo who will add some serious size and athleticism to the side. The Samoan International joins from Cronulla Sharks and will be part of an already impressive pack, including the likes of Luke Thompson and the ever-green James Roby.

If Saints can make a positive start and put the disappointment of 2018 firmly behind them, then they will absolutely be among the contenders for trophies again in 2019; and what better way to get up and running than with a derby day win on the opening night of the season?

What do the experts think?

Paul Sculthorpe: “Arguably the best side in 2018, despite two semi-final defeats in both Super League and Challenge Cup. Justin Holbrook will certainly be looking for silverware this season. I believe this Saints squad is stronger – even without Ben Barba! Some big-name signings including Lachlan Coote, along with the return of the fit-again Alex Walmsley – they’ll take some beating!”

Star man? Lachlan Coote

Preidcted finish? 1st

Jamie Peacock: “Saints need to learn to win the sudden death games but they will be boosted by strong overseas signings and the best crop of youngsters in the game.”

Predicted finish? 1st

 

The 2019 Betfred League Season kicks off in: 

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