We’re back! ... the game we all love and I just can’t wait til Sunday!

Unfortunately though, this doesn’t include the fantastic fans of rugby league quite yet, who will have to wait a while longer to be allowed into the stadiums to take in the live action.

However, they will of course be able to watch the restart of the Betfred Super League live on Sky Sports.

The important thing is the game has survived, certainly not unscathed but by everyone sticking together through lockdown, I will be as delighted as anyone to see the players back out there.

When I say everyone, I include the Government who have made a significant sum of money available to ensure the game survives, the decision makers at both the RFL and Betfred Super League, Broadcast partners Sky, players and staff who have all taken significant pay-cuts due to enormous holes in revenues - and of course last but not least our title sponsors Betfred, who have been 100% supportive and continuously worked through lockdown to keep the RL flag flying high.

Another fantastic piece of news is the results of the first bout of testing within the clubs, with no positive results recorded. All players and staff have had to endure two tests so far under the protocols, with 924 tests carried out in total.

So back to business on Sunday, with Leeds v Huddersfield and our current champions Saints taking on the Catalan Dragons in a double-header at Headingley.

With over four months since the last fixtures played, it feels like the start of a new season with players fresh and some fully recovered from injury. However, unlike the start of a new year the players haven’t had a pre-season to build on, more a honesty call to try and keep their strength and fitness, many without the means and facilities to do so. So what impact with this have on both, player and team performances? We’ll soon find out…especially with the new rules kicking in. These include the temporary no-scrums and the ‘6 again’ penalty rule. Both these changes will ensure more ball in play and faster games...so certainly suits the more athletic teams and the players who have handled lockdown the best.

Betfred have us 5/2 favourites to repeat last season’s success as Grand Final winners, with our two nearest rivals Wigan and Warrington both 3/1, followed by Yorkshire’s two biggest clubs Leeds and Castleford at 8/1.

Aside from the five teams already mentioned, which other teams are serious contenders for silverware? According to Saints first opposition Catalan, gaffer Steve McNamara says his team are looking very sharp and itching to get going. We know on their day are capable of beating anyone, but have always struggled with consistency. Saints will need to be on their guard in the opener that’s for sure. I’m of course backing the champions, and getting their season restarted with a win by 12 points or more (evens at Betfred). I’ll also go with Leeds to take advantage of home comforts with a 14 points or more win over the Giants (3/1 at Betfred).

Another team I’m very interested in seeing is Hull FC. Now under the charge of England Assistant Andy Last, following the controversial sacking of Lee Radford just before lockdown. The black and whites on paper have a team that should compete for honours. I know Andy has used the time wisely to reflect on what needed improving to do that, and has spent the last two weeks implementing into training. Both the Dragons and FC currently sit at 14/1 to pick up the Betfred Super League trophy at Old Trafford.

So with nearly all teams refreshed and at full strength, there will be some tough selection dilemmas for the coaches! Let’s hope this is still the case in a few weeks as fixtures come thick and fast.

Let’s again get back behind the greatest game of all!