SUPER League bosses are set to get together to potentially vote on boosting the competition to 14 teams from 2019.
But 2018 could be the most important year in Super League, both on and off the field, as it looks to build on England’s near miss in the World Cup.
The future make-up of the top flight will be top priority, with an increase most likely but also who coaches England, when will games be played and who will broadcast them make up four of the biggest topics up for discussion. As will who leads the Rugby Football League after chief executive Nigel Wood stepped down on Friday.
Here, SunSport lists 13 things we would like to see happen over the next year.
WAYNE BENNETT TO STAY AS ENGLAND COACH
OK, a media darling he most certainly is not but Bennett’s impact on the England side cannot be denied after their World cup final place. His future should be decided this month but here’s hoping he stays.
ENGLAND TO BEAT NEW ZEALAND 3-0
IF the World Cup is anything to go by, then the Kiwis are there to be beaten. This Autumn’s series is the first home action since the World Cup final and a whitewash will further aid the feelgood factor.
ENGLAND TO SET UP A GAME AGAINST TONGA
ANYONE who witnessed the last seven minutes of the World Cup semi-final knows Tonga must get more meaningful games. May be one for 2019 but how about facing them in mid-season, possibly Down Under?
SUPER LEAGUE TO DECIDE WHAT HAPPENS IN 2019 BEFORE 2018 STARTS
DECISION day is coming, when Super League clubs vote on whether to go up to 14 for 2019. Making sure everyone knows what they are playing for before the 2018 season starts is a must.
HULL TO REACH THE GRAND FINAL
CHALLENGE Cup wins two years running have injected some much-needed knowhow of how to win big matches into what could be a giant. Getting to Old Trafford is the next step to becoming a true force in a rugby league hotbed.
LEEDS TO WIN IN MELBOURNE
IT IS 24 years since Wigan won the World Club Challenge in Brisbane and Leeds head to take on the NRL champions in their own back yard. What a confidence boost for Super League and its players a Rhinos victory would be.
BEN MURDOCH-MASILA TO BE A STAR
MADE the Dream Team at Salford and the back-rower showed why Warrington paid £175,000 for the 26-year-old while playing for Tonga in the World Cup. If the Wolves do bounce back, it is a far bet Murdoch-Masila will be a big reason.
ALEX WALMSLEY TO GO OUT WITH A BANG?
LISTEN to many people and the St Helens prop, 27, is joining NRL side St George-Illawarra for 2019. If it is one more year over here, what better way to bow out by leading Saints to the top?
SAM TOMKINS TO GET CLOSE TO HIS BEST
INJURIES robbed the world’s most expensive ever player of the frightening skill and deceptive running, and cost him an England spot. Showed glimpses last season but after a full pre-season, 2018 is hopefully 28-year-old full-back Tomkins’ time to shine again.
LONDON TO GET IN ANY EXPANDED SUPER LEAGUE
IF, as expected, Super League goes up to 14 for 2019, much focus will be on the fortunes of Toronto Wolfpack and Toulouse, but getting a presence back in the capital with London Broncos could be huge for the competition off the field.
A PROPER REPRESENTATIVE WEEKEND
OK, a mid-season international in June has been created but we would like a proper, not a kickabout, Yorkshire v Lancashire game. One the
players take seriously. Also, a Cumbria v The Others game, would also boost the representative ranks.
HULL AND WIGAN TO SUCCEED DOWN UNDER
PLAYING a Super League game in Wollongong, New South Wales, next month is a gamble and takes some explaining but hopefully it opens the eyes of a few fans and businesses Down Under to the English game. If that works, expect other clubs to follow suit.
THE NRL TO REALISE THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERNATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE
IT IS said the biggest enemy to the international game are the letters N, R and L, where myopic self-interest has sometimes cost the sport. Well, the words Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea cut through around the world far more than Manly, St George-Illawarra, Cronulla and North Queensland ever will.
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