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Sky Bet's Jordan Fiddes expects threat of relegation to play a part at both ends of table
By Jordan Fiddes - Twitter: @SkyJordanFiddes. Last Updated: 06/02/14 11:25pm
Wigan Warriors: Will find it much harder to record another double-winning campaign in 2014
The return of relegation from Super League in 2014 should increase the competition's intensity and make it harder for club's to be crowned Champions come October time.
Wigan recorded a unique double last year - winning the Challenge Cup and the Grand Final - which has grown to 5/1 for any club completing that in Super League XIX.
The clubs challenging for honours are the usual suspects - Wigan 3/1, Warrington 7/2, Leeds 9/2 and St Helens 5/1 are the front runners for Grand Final glory - yet these are slightly bigger than last year due to the added spice of relegation.
Some of their high-profile signings are amongst the favourites for Man of Steel too.
Both Rangi Chase and Gareth Hock are 25/1 for the coveted personal award and, with Chase topping the assists chart at Castelford last year, he's proving very popular in that market.
Another new signing leads the way for the Man of Steel, however, with Saints' Luke Walsh at just 12/1.
The former Penrith scrum-half was renowned for his accurate kicking game in the NRL so he should be challenging last year's winner Danny Brough - who is 20/1 to reclaim it - all the way.
Brough was the top goal-kicker in Super League last year with 144 successful attempts and his side will be hoping to go one better in 2014.
Six time Champions Leeds Rhinos finished 2013 trophy-less for the first time in three years and will be hoping to bounce-back with some key signings - including England winger Tom Briscoe.
The Featherstone-born flyer scored an impressive 90 tries in five seasons at Hull FC and is a big price of 14/1 to be this year's top try-scorer.
Josh Charnley and Joel Monaghan again top the betting for the most clinical finisher with both scoring 60 tries between them in 2013.
At the bottom London, Wakefield, Widnes and Bradford all have three-figured prices for Grand Final glory with the Broncos the biggest outsiders at 400/1.
With their future undecided just a few months ago, Tony Rea has had to patch a team together with numerous lone signings and unknown NRL players.
They are the favourites to be relegated this year along with Wakefield and Bradford who have had financial difficulties of their own in the off-season.
Joe Burgess: Tipped to have a successful year filling Pat Richards' boots
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"In the regular season market, we've seen the most money come in for St Helens.
"Much like last year, they have made some shrewd signings but it seems that the addition of Walsh has really whet the appetite of the punters.
"It's slightly different for the Grand Final winners as Leeds are the most popular with Saints just behind.
"Just a few months ago, Wigan were the clear front runners here but with the Rhinos , Saints and Salford all well backed, we have moved a few prices.
"The Man of Steel award has been backed to be a player from a Lancashire side.
"The most bets have come in for Luke Walsh, Matt Bowen and Sean O'Loughlin."
Much like the Sky Bet punters, I can see St Helens having a successful year this year, especially with their strength in depth.
At 5/1, Nathan Brown's men look a good price to finish the regular rounds on top of the pile.
As a top try-scorer, Wigan's Joe Burgess could be a good punt at 16/1.
Fairly unknown to Super League fans outside of the DW, the Academy product scored 24 tries in just 18 appearances last year and could be the man to fill the void left by Pat Richards.