With Danny McGuire and Shaun Lunt in their ranks, how will Hull KR handle being back in Super League?
Captain: Shaun Lunt
Coach: Tim Sheens
2017 Position: Championship – promoted
Key player – Danny McGuire
There were a few who thought Danny McGuire might have been finished in Super League at times last year. And then the Grand Final happened. McGuire turned in one of the competition’s best performances, controlling and manoeuvring his Leeds side around the park in difficult conditions to comfortably see off 2017’s best team, the Castleford Tigers. McGuire provided 24 try assists throughout the year, proving he’s still a playmaker of the highest quality. And Hull KR will certainly need those qualities as they look to make their Super League return a success. Experience, trophy-winning calibre and the appetite for a new challenge. Expect a big year from McGuire.
Fresh face – Tommy Lee
While Hull KR made a couple of big moves towards the end of last season, signing Justin Carney and Mose Masoe for their promotion push, Tommy Lee could prove a shrewd piece of business as well. The former Salford captain’s signing wasn’t universally popular, but Hull KR are short of cover in the playmaking positions. They’re still searching for a partner for McGuire in the halves following the end of Jamie Ellis’ loan and Lee will help out there as well as providing cover for captain Shaun Lunt at hooker. An experienced campaigner with plenty of leadership ability, the Robins will need all the Super League know-how they can get to survive this season.
One to watch – Ryan Shaw
Hull KR’s promotion hero, Ryan Shaw, sealed the club’s return to Super League; his 80-metre interception try helped the club past Widnes in the Qualifiers, crossing 10 minutes from time to secure a 12-6 win. He joined the club in 2016 from Bradford, but it was not until last season that Shaw really settled in. He scored 26 tries in 31 games, forming a good understanding with centre Andrew Heffernan. With that sort of eye for the try line, Shaw will play an important part in cementing the Robins’ place in Super League. Will he deliver at the highest level?
Reasons for optimism
Despite being the promoted side, Hull KR come up with plenty of class. Their captain, Lunt, is a former Super League winner with Leeds and still a quality hooker, while McGuire will undoubtedly be a positive influence. Last campaign’s mid-seasons signings, Masoe and Carney, know their way round Super League, Nick Scruton, Chris Clarkson, Maurice Blair, James Donaldson and Lee Jewitt all have over 100 Super League appearances under their belts. With that sort of experience, Rovers should have enough to survive.
Reasons for concern
It’s clear Tim Sheens doesn’t feel his squad is at an adequate level yet. That much has been made obvious with a failed offer for Salford’s Robert Lui, a bid that showed plenty of ambition without succeeding. A new half-back is essential, but it does not look like that will happen before the new campaign kicks off. Rovers have left the number six slot free in their squad and there is no doubt they need someone to partner McGuire. Unless that is secured, there could be trouble ahead.