Super League club-by-club guide
The First Utility Super League gets underway on Friday night when reigning champions Wigan host Huddersfield, live on Sky Sports
Last Updated: 05/02/14 1:55pm
With the competition to be cut from 14 teams to 12 for 2015, every club knows they cannot afford to take a backward step over the coming months. The race is on not just to make the play-offs, but to retain your top-flight status.
Wigan won it all last year, following up their success in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley with a stunning comeback at Old Trafford to beat Warrington in the Grand Final. For the Wolves, it meant heartache at the final hurdle for the second successive season.
While last year's two finalists will be expected to be amongst the frontrunners again, both have to overcome the loss of key personnel during the winter. The Warriors and Wolves will miss Sam Tomkins and Lee Briers respectively, and so will Super League, too.
Perennial powerhouses Leeds and St Helens will want to make the familiar trip to Manchester in October, while Huddersfield have hopes of building on a season that saw them lift the League Leaders Shield - they had last finished on top of the pile back in 1932.
Salford have spent big under new owner Dr Koukash in the hope of making an impact at the top end of the table - but can Marwan's millions work wonders with the newly-named Red Devils?
Both Hull clubs and Catalan Dragons also made the play-offs in 2013, but will face pressure to retain their places from the likes of Bradford, Castleford and Widnes. After difficult recent times, London Broncos and Wakefield will be determined to prove the bookies wrong.
It seems as wide open as ever. Perhaps former F1 driver Mark Webber summed it up best in Sky Sports' advert for 2014: "In some other team sports you can soften up a little bit. In League, there is nowhere to hide."
TEAM-BY-TEAM GUIDE (click on the names to read full preview)
The last time the Bulls made the play-offs was in 2008; after a difficult few months head coach Francis Cummins will hope he can end that drought with a squad that offers a good blend of Super League experience and promising young talent.
Phil Clarke predicts: 12th
Castleford have added plenty of new faces during the winter months as head coach Daryl Powell, who took over midway through last season, looks to get the Tigers roaring again. A big season lies ahead as they aim to retain their top-flight status beyond 2014.
Phil Clarke predicts: 11th
Having finished in the play-off positions for the past three seasons in a row, the key now for Super League's French representatives is to become serious contenders to make a trip to Old Trafford in October. However, that last step can sometimes be the biggest to take.
Phil Clarke predicts: 8th
Paul Anderson enjoyed a stellar first season in charge as, led by the 2013 Man of Steel Danny Brough, the Giants finished on top of the pile for the first time in 81 years. In the play-offs, though, they lost to Wigan and Warrington to miss out on the Grand Final. Can they reach Old Trafford this year?
Phil Clarke predicts: 6th
With former assistant Lee Radford stepping up to the top job in place of the axed Peter Gentle, and with skipper Gareth Ellis hoping to have better luck with injuries in his second season at the KC Stadium, last year's Challenge Cup finalists will be aiming to challenge for honours.
Phil Clarke predicts: 7th
Australian Craig Sandercock remains in charge at the newly-named KC Lightstream Stadium. He has again looked overseas to the NRL to bolster his squad for another play-off push under the guidance of his joint captains, stand-off Travis Burns and hooker Josh Hodgson.
Phil Clarke predicts: 10th
The Rhinos proved unable to beat the best of the NRL in the World Club Challenge as they endured a trophy-free 2013. Now Brian McDermott's squad - bolstered by two key acquisitions from Super League rivals - will be determined to make sure the same doesn't happen again this year.
Phil Clarke predicts: 3rd
The Broncos looked like they might be lost to Super League, at least for the short term, for long periods during the off-season. They have survived, and now must thrive with a virtually brand new squad at their new home in Barnet to see them retain their place in Super League.
Phil Clarke predicts: 14th
Dr Marwan Koukash is about to find out if his financial clout can help bring Salford back to life after a turbulent 2013. Coach Brian Noble's squad, led by local lad Adrian Morley, will be expected to challenge for honours this year, a far cry from the situation they found themselves in 12 months ago.
Phil Clarke predicts: 1st
It was something of a year of transition in 2013 for Saints, their first under Nathan Brown. Now the Australian has his feet under the table at Langtree Park and has looked to add power up front, including signing prop Kyle Amor from Wakefield Wildcats. But what about their half-back issues?
Phil Clarke predicts: 5th
Players sold to balance the books. Concerns about their new signings turning up on a time due to red-tape problems. Issues over the ground capacity. It's fair to say it has been a turbulent off-season for Wakefield. However, captain Danny Kirmond remains part of Richard Agar's squad.
Phil Clarke predicts: 13th
Warrington have been bridesmaids twice in a row now, so expect the Wolves to be hungry to go one step further in 2014. While they have lost two stalwarts, including Lee Briers, who has retired to take up a coaching role at the club, there's little reason to believe they won't be contending again.
Phil Clarke predicts: 2nd
Widnes will want to continue on an upward curve in their third season back in Super League. Their facilities are excellent and now they will have their sights set on a place in the play-offs under the leadership of Denis Betts, particularly with the addition of goal-kicking forward Danny Tickle.
Phil Clarke predicts: 9th
Wigan surprised a few by completing the double last season, putting a limp finish to the regular season behind them to add the Super League title to the Challenge Cup. Can Shaun Wane's men defend both trophies - and win the World Club Challenge - now they no longer have Sam Tomkins?
Phil Clarke predicts: 4th
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