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Super League 2022: Sky Sports rugby league pundit predictions for the season ahead

Our Sky Sports rugby league team gaze into their crystal balls and look ahead to pick the Grand Final winners, surprise package, relegation, Man of Steel, new signing to watch and this year's Rugby League World Cup winners

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 09/10/2021 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League Grand Final - Catalans Dragons v St Helens - Old Trafford, Manchester, England - St Helens's Tommy Makinson, Morgan Knowles, James Roby, Jonny Lomax, Lachlan Coote, Mark Percival & Alex Walmsley celebrate with the Betfred Super League trophy after victory over Catalans.

With the new Betfred Super League season just around the corner, Sky Sports' team of pundits give their predictions of how 2022 might unfold...

Jamie Jones-Buchanan (Sky Sports Rugby League expert)

Grand Final winners: Catalans Dragons. With head coach Steve McNamara's reputation nearing Merovingian status in the south of France, I can see him commanding this hungry, hurting and regimented outfit one step further in 2022.

Surprise package: Toulouse Olympique. This could be a renaissance year in the south of France. Many will tip Toulouse to go down, but I expect the example-setting influence of their bigger French brothers will be enough to keep them up.

Relegation: Wakefield Trinity. Willie Poching's men need a great start and a consistently fit team on the pitch. With Toulouse being my surprise package, a slow start might be too hard to make up.

Man of Steel: Morgan Knowles. The St Helens back row has a monster work-rate and fortitude to match. Forwards like Morgan aren't usually equipped with the level of vision and craft that he possesses either. He will be this year's hero in the Saints' war machine, for me.

New signing to watch: David Fusitu'a. The skill level of this guy is simply premium - an attribute matched only by his natural size and power. This Tonga international will dazzle crowds with Leeds Rhinos during this year's campaign.

World Cup winners: England in the men's tournament - we'll bully our way to a win. I've got to go for Australia in the women's tournament as we've not played enough big games, but it will be England in the wheelchair World Cup too as we're charged and ready to go.

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Sky Sports' new rugby league pundits Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Jon Wilkin give their predictions for the new season of the Super League

Jenna Brooks (Sky Sport Rugby League reporter)

Grand Final winners: Warrington Wolves. We all know Daryl Powell is a great coach, but with more money at his disposal I think the next couple of years will reveal just how good. Then you can add arguably two of the best halves in the comp in George Williams and Gareth Widdop.

Surprise package: Huddersfield Giants. Last year was tough for everyone involved in the club, but that pressure is no longer there, and I know how determined Ian Watson will be to prove the doubters wrong. He has also made some good signings, particularly Theo Fages and Tui Lolohea.

Relegation: Toulouse Olympique. Had you asked me two months ago, my answer would have been different. Simply put, with the players that have left the club suddenly, I just can't see them being able to compete week in, week out. I will, however, put this on record: I hope I'm wrong!

Man of Steel: George Williams. We got glimpses of what we know the star half-back is capable of in 2021. He recently spoke about how happy and settled he is at Warrington. He's also had a full off-season with the Wire and will be more accustomed to playing alongside Gareth Widdop.

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New signing to watch: Mitchell Pearce. If someone had to replace Jimmy Maloney, Pearce was a great option. He has 15 seasons in the top-flight, playing more than 300 NRL games, so the star half brings an enormous amount of experience and ability to win the games that matter.

World Cup Winner: I have to go with Australia for both men's and women's. I just can't see any other country being able to beat a full-strength Kangaroos outfit. And in the women's tournament, I believe the Jillaroos will have more big-game experience than England have at the moment.

In the wheelchair competition I think holders France are going to be tough to beat again, but I believe after what will be two huge years for the sport in England, Tom Coyd's side have what it takes.

Jon Wilkin (Sky Sports Rugby League expert)

Grand Final winner: St Helens. Think the New York Yankees, Melbourne Storm, Manchester United - all sports dynasties at one time or another. Saints are building one.

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A look back as St Helens edged out Catalans Dragons 12-10 to win the 2021 Super League Grand Final

Surprise package: Crazy to suggest this, but underperforming Warrington Wolves. They shouldn't surprise anyone with the talent they have and the amount of money they have piled into the team over the years. Surprise package was vague enough, so I think they may surprise themselves for the first time in a while under new coach Daryl Powell.

Relegation: Toulouse Olympique. They're really running a squad on Championship wages and recruiting for Super League in a three-month window is near impossible. Leigh Centurions dredged along the bottom all year in 2021 and it would be sad if Toulouse did the same.

Man of Steel: Will Pryce. Who?! What?! This is my outrageous prediction that if it comes true, I'll refer to. If it doesn't let's never mention it again. I was going to say Huddersfield Giants as my surprise package based a lot around this young man.

New signing to watch: If you are making me pick one, Mitchel Pearce at the Catalans Dragons. Son of Australian legend Wayne with a nifty kicking game, an organiser and filling the boots of James Maloney. This guy is a player with pedigree.

Picture by Jack Wray/SLE/ via - 06/01/2022 Rugby League, Betfred Super League preview Season 2022 - Pre Season Location Video Shoot and Stills Photography Portraits
- Will Pryce Huddersfield Giants
Image: Jon Wilkin is tipping Huddersfield's Will Pryce to star in 2022

World Cup winners: Australia in the men's. It will be tough for England, but I seriously hope they smash it. Look out for Tonga along the way. In the women's tournament I think we can't look too far past our Antipodean friends again, Australia. It's sunny there which makes them better at sports where being outside helps - apart from archery and croquet.

I recently interviewed England wheelchair captain Tom Halliwell. He looked me dead in the eye, I asked for a percentage likelihood of victory for England. A bead of sweat ran down my forehead. This was intense. He kept his gaze fixed on me and like a great western movie with a toothpick hanging out the side of his mouth, he said: "100 per cent." That's good then. Cheers, Tom.

Terry O'Connor (Sky Sports Rugby League expert)

Grand Final winner: Leeds Rhinos. St Helens are certainly the side to beat and I'm sure they'll be going all out to win their fourth title in a row, while Catalans also will be driven after last year's defeat. But Leeds are the team I'm tipping. In Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer they have a half-back pairing who are best mates, and in James Bentley they've got some aggression and class in the forwards.

Surprise package: My old club Salford Red Devils. I'm not saying they're going to get to the Grand Final like they did in 2019, but I'm not doom and gloom about them like some are predicting. With some real brains in the halves and some firepower up front, they have made some shrewd signings - along with new head coach Paul Rowley

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Highlights of the Million Pound game as Toulouse Olympique took on Featherstone Rovers for a place in Super League 2022

Relegation: Toulouse Olympique. It's always tough as new boys coming into Super League and trying to build a side when all other teams have recruited months before. Losing key players in Johnathon Ford and possibly Mark Kheirallah won't help as they played a huge role in getting Toulouse promoted.

Man of Steel: Morgan Knowles. The St Helens back row is a player I admire along with several others in Super League. It's going to be a tough call and it's a wildcard pick, but I'll go for the former Welsh wizard and now England key man Knowles.

New signing to watch: David Fustiu'a - it's hard not to watch him when he's 106kg. His hat-trick for Tonga in the 2017 World Cup helped stun the rugby league world when they defeated New Zealand. Standing 6ft 2in, he will score a lot of tries from the kicks I'm sure Sezer and Austin will be aiming to his side of the field. His powerful runs will also get Leeds on the front foot early in the sets.

World Cup winners: England. It's easy to look at Australia, Tonga and New Zealand, but I'm going for a home nations win - and hopefully they will all do well. The pressure will be on England, but I for one am pretty confident Shaun Wane will have his side prepared and raring to go.

Barrie McDermott (Sky Sports Rugby League expert)

Grand Final winner: St Helens.

Surprise package: Leeds Rhinos.

Relegation: Toulouse Olympique.

Man of Steel: George Williams.

Picture by Will Palmer/ - 05/01/2022 - Super League Season 2022 Pre Season Location Video Shoot and Stills Photography Portraits - George Williams of Warrington Wolves
Image: Barrie McDermott expects Warrington's George Williams to shine in 2022

New signing to watch: David Fusitu'a.

World Cup winner: Men's - England; Women's - New Zealand; Wheelchair - England.

Jon Wells (Sky Sports Rugby League expert)

Grand Final winner: Catalans Dragons.

Surprise package: Toulouse Olympique - they stay up.

Picture by Paul Currie/ - 30/08/2021 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League Round 22 - Warrington Wolves v St Helens - Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, England - St Helens' Jack Welsby
Image: Jon Wilkin is expecting a big year from St Helens' Jack Welsby

Relegation: Wakefield Trinity.

Man of Steel: Jack Welsby.

New signing to watch: Mitchell Pearce.

World Cup winner: Men's - Australia; Women's - Australia; Wheelchair - France.

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