Rugby League's top flight is back on the Sky Sports screens
Last Updated: 15/01/14 10:57am
Wigan: hoping to for a repeat despite loss of Sam Tomkins
After the drama of the World Cup in the autumn, the Super League is already preparing to surge back into gear with Sky Sports.
England put up a gallant bid for the most precious of international rugby league prizes - beaten 20-18 by New Zealand in the dying seconds of a truly pulsating Wembley semi-final.
Although the Kiwis were ultimately thrashed 34-2 in their rematch with Australia in the final, Steve McNamara's England produced a terrific advert for Super League rugby.
One of Super League's brightest young stars, Sam Tomkins, has left Wigan to join fellow Englishmen Sam Burgess and James Graham in the affluent surroundings of the NRL - but there remains a heady mix of experience and promise on offer domestically.
Before saying goodbye to the Warriors, Tomkins helped the club to the Super League XVIII and Challenge Cup double last season - and coach Shaun Wane will be desperate to preserve the momentum of his young side despite the departure of one of its linchpins.
2013's Man of Steel Danny Brough will be scheming an alternative eventuality as he attempts to guide Huddersfield Giants to their first title. The Claret & Gold finished top of the table in the regular season last year but have never made a Grand Final.
Warrington, meanwhile, are determined to go one better having lost the last two Grand Finals - going down to the Warriors 30-16 last year and falling 26-18 to Leeds in 2012.
Seasoned warriors such as Ben Westwood and Michael Monaghan may look back with regret should they fail to crown their careers with Super League glory and this term may be one of their last chances.
Then you have the team who are always there or thereabouts: the Rhinos.
With England skipper Kevin Sinfield now 33 and long-time cohorts Rob Burrow and Danny Maguire also the 'wrong' side of 30, many feel that this squad has passed its sell-by date. It would be foolish to count them out, though, wouldn't it?
Amid the usual suspects, there is the emerging financial superpower of Salford, who have recruited the likes of Rangi Chase, Adrian Morley and Gareth Hock ahead of their first full season under Dr Marwan Koukash's ownership. Will they gel quickly enough?
Don't be surprised to see another team come from nowhere to catch fire early on in this campaign - it promises to be another thrilling year of Super League rugby and it kicks off in style with the champions against the winners of the League Leaders Shield.
Friday, 7 February
Wigan Warriors v Huddersfield Giants, 7pm, Sky Sports 1