So, it’s my final column of the year as we sign off from an unprecedented Betfred Super League season.

It will be another enjoyable off-season for the Saints players, staff and fans knowing the job was done and we yet again head into the 2021 season as champions!

The only down side is the unlikely opportunity to play NRL champions Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge due to the ongoing global pandemic.

This is obviously no surprise, however it’s still a huge disappointment as it’s always a great event seeing the champions from both hemispheres collide, with the Super League sides having some great successes in the past.

Reflecting on what was another outstanding season for the club, it was great to see a number of individuals singled out for recognition at the Saints annual awards night.

Morgan Knowles picked up the Player of the Year award, skipper James Roby was named Players Player of the Year and the outstanding James Bentley was crowned Young Player of the Year.

Big Alex Walmsley was the Members’ choice as their top player award. There must have been some difficult decisions with the likes of Coote, Lomax and Grace also having outstanding seasons.

Saints in 2021 looks an even more exciting prospect, with numerous additions to the squad including NRL recruits Joel Thompson, Agnatius Paasi and Sione Mata’utia, plus Warrington-born former Widnes and London Broncos prop Dan Norman. The four certainly add plenty of size and power to the champions’ side.

One player moving on to pastures new is young centre Matty Costello, who looks set to join the newly-appointed head coach at Salford, Richard Marshall.

The former Saints assistant coach replaces fan-favourite Ian Watson, who surprised a lot of people taking the Huddersfield Giants post a few months ago. I wish both Matty and Rich well on their move to the Red Devils.

In other news, the 12th team to complete in the Betfred Super League with soon be decided after all the candidate clubs submitted their applications last week.

Leigh, Bradford, York, Featherstone, London and Toulouse have all applied to join the top tier. Personally I have my concerns about all the clubs, and what they can bring to Super League in such a short space of time in regards to recruiting a team that can compete on a budget that will be significantly less than the other 11 teams also.

We need Super League to drive more commercial revenue from both partners and future broadcasting deals, and worry what some of these clubs, if selected, will help to do that. Let’s hope it is the right decision for the game as a whole.

Talking about the 12 teams that will compete next season, which starts on March 11, title sponsors Betfred can’t split Saints and Wigan at 5/2 following that breath-taking Grand Final.

Could it finally be Warrington’s year? They’re 7/1, with Leeds 10/1, followed by Hull FC, Castleford and Huddersfield at 12/1 – while Hull KR, Wakefield and Salford are the rank outsiders at 66/1.

I cannot see past a repeat of this season’s Grand Final between derby rivals Saints and Wigan. I think both clubs, especially after off-season recruitment, are far superior to their nearest rivals.

Finally, we always say our sport is the greatest and the best for looking after our own – well I must give a massive congratulations to my good friend and fellow Waterhead ARLFC junior Kevin Sinfield.

Kev set out to raise £77,777 for his good friend, former Leeds Rhinos teammate and Super League legend Rob Burrow, who was sadly diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease back in December last year.

Sinny set himself a challenge of running seven marathons in seven days, all under four hours.

Well, he achieved that, and with the fantastic support of the BBC, MND Association and the backing of the whole rugby league community, he has gone on to raise a staggering £2m+ which will help further research and support to other sufferers of this cruel illness. Well done mate.

As we now have light at the end of this long dark tunnel of 2020 with the Covid-19 vaccine now being rolled out, I want to wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year, and look forward to seeing everyone back on the terraces in 2021 for another fantastic Betfred Super League season!