Terry O’Connor: Super League back with a bang in 2021

Sky Sports rugby league expert and former Super League player Terry O’Connor tells us why he cannot wait for the 2021 season to get underway. Watch all six matches from Rounds 1 and 2 live on Sky Sports

The 2021 Super League season kicks off on Friday and Sky Sports pundit Terry O’Connor tells us what he is looking forward to…

Super League is back with a bang this week and I can’t wait.

Everyone’s sick of lockdown; putting on weight, not going to the gym, eating and drinking too much, and generally letting ourselves go – but anyway, that’s enough about Barrie McDermott.

Seriously though, it’s good to be back and even before we finally get to see live action once again, we’ve got you covered here on Sky Sports, with a wall-to-wall week of rugby league.

Hopefully, our week of nostalgia on Sky Sports Arena should really whet your appetite and if you’ve still got the stomach after all that, we’ve got six live games to kick it all off.

Sadly, for now, we can’t have fans at the games and that’s a massive disappointment not only for them and the players, but for everyone in rugby league, and especially us here at Sky.

Trust me, we in the commentary box really want to see you lot as soon as possible because the players can hear every word we’re saying. In empty stadiums, they’re constantly looking up at us.

It’s amazing, though – I’ve never heard the commentary team having a go at Manu Ma’u, Alex Walmsley, or Luke Gale for some reason.

Even at this early stage, there is lots of talk about who’s going to win the Grand Final, who’ll make it through to Old Trafford. Obviously, St Helens, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and Leeds Rhinos are among the names cropping up.

I’d throw Catalans Dragons into that mix, but I reckon there will be lots of eyes on Hull FC and Huddersfield too.

Both of those clubs have spent big in recent times, with little return. Under new coaches, both sets of supporters will be hoping those two can break the monopoly at the top.

With some serious money spent in the off-season, incoming Giants boss Ian Watson has moulded a side he thinks can do a job – and don’t forget, ‘Watto’ has already taken unfancied Salford to both Wembley and Old Trafford.

That’s not bad for a club that didn’t get anywhere near the salary cap. Now he’s got the opposite – one of the wealthiest owners in the competition, who’s never been afraid to throw money at the club, for a town he clearly adores.

After the Cheltenham Festival, if anyone is looking for an outside bet then Hull FC could be worth looking at.

Over the years there’s been a lot of pressure on Jake Connor to perform for them and the club’s supporters will hope for more consistency in their star man this season. If new head coach Brett Hodgson can’t get the best out of the England man, I don’t know who can.

Former New South Wales, Wests Tigers and Huddersfield favourite Hodgson – crowned Man of Steel in 2009, remember – played in the same position with distinction throughout his career.

Having unfortunately lost Jamie Shaul to injury, the full-back role could be the making of Connor. Instead of fans turning up speculating where he might play, he’ll be nailed on in that No.1 spot.

With another ex-Tiger in Josh Reynolds about to form a mouth-watering partnership with Marc Sneyd at half-back, that should give Jake licence to play his natural game.

We’ve talked about two clubs there, but when we look elsewhere in Super League, all clubs have made some fabulous signings.

Whether the likes of Ryan Hall and John Bateman returning from the NRL, the wrecking ball Zane Tetevano, Sione Mata’utia at Saints, Mason Lino at Wakefield Trinity, or the outrageously gifted, one-in-a-lifetime talent Greg Inglis, we have some box-office players to light up our screens in 2021. All I can say is: let’s get it on!


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