Super League: 5 potential breakout stars for 2016
The new Super League season is almost upon us with 11 teams looking to bring treble-winning Leeds back down to Earth with a bump.
With a load of new arrivals and several key retirements the 21st edition of the competition in its current guise holds plenty of intrigue and there are a number of potential young stars looking to make a name for themselves.
While departing legends of the game like Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock needn’t worry about their legacies being overshadowed any time soon here are five young stars looking to carve their way in rugby league history, starting with a solid showing in the season ahead…
Liam Sutcliffe – Leeds Rhinos
Being at Headingley the onus on Sutcliffe to emulate the above named greats may be a little more emphasised but with almost 60 Rhinos appearances under his belt the 21-year-old has a solid base from which to build.
Filling the boots of Sinfield is no easy task and while there may be questions about his defensive capabilities, he is a real attacking threat and should easily surpass the five tries and 74 points he accumulated last year.
Theo Fages – St Helens
Moving from one of the league’s so-called weaker teams to the powerhouse that is St Helens could be the gift and the curse for the 21-year-old Frenchman.
While being able to call upon the likes of Sean Long will no doubt improve his game the spotlight at Langtree Park will shine brighter than it did at Salford. Having already played around 60 games too he is primed to take the jump in his stride and while a long-term signing for Saints he could make an instant impact this term.
Niall Evalds – Salford Red Devils
Having scored nine tries in the last 11 games of last season speed merchant Evalds will be raring to go.
With a huge squad overhaul at Salford this summer Evalds could be the man to emerge as a leader of the pack, despite being just 22. Red Devils owner Marwan Koukash believes Evalds will eventually challenge the likes of Sam Tomkins and Zak Hardaker at international level and a solid showing on the domestic front this year would go some way to repaying such faith.
Dominic Manfredi – Wigan Warriors
Manfredi averaged almost a try per game in Super League last season and is being tipped to rise to the very top of the game.
Many people’s pick to be top tryscorer, Manfredi has also picked up plaudits for hes defensive work and his presence at the DW Stadium in part explains the Warriors’ billing as title favourites this season.
Ryan Hampshire – Castleford Tigers
Moving from Wigan to Castleford might not be everyone’s idea of a smart move but Hampshire knows where he wants to play his rugby – in a positional sense – and is more likely to get half-back opportunities under Daryl Powell.
Having played in 15 games for Wigan last season he had plenty of chances to show his pace and he could be a real attacking threat for the Tigers in the coming months.
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