SAINTS legend Paul Sculthorpe returns this week with his column - and he looks ahead to tonight's big Betfred Super League kick off.

HERE we go again ...and I for one can’t wait for the Betfred Super League 2019 to kick off!

Not one to sit on the fence, my prediction for Super League glory’ve guessed it...the mighty Saints!

It might seem a blinkered view to some, backing my beloved Saints but I truly believe Super League's best team in 2018 are stronger still...

But one thing for sure it won’t be handed to them, and according to title sponsors Betfred, their odds predict the toughest Super League season yet.

St Helens, 2018 League Leaders are again favourites for Old Trafford glory come October 12th, 4/1 with Betfred.

The Wire - rocked by the devastating injury to Kevin Brown - are 9/2 with Wigan 11/2 to be crowned champs, Leeds and Castleford 10/1, with Hull FC 16/1 while many peoples dark horses Catalan Dragons a great bet at 22/1.

The Dragons, current Challenge Cup winners will certainly go into this season with great confidence. Not just because of last seasons successes but after some shrewd off-season signing including Sam Tomkins and Matty Smith, joining some quality players like McIllorum, Gigot and Bird. As ever though, consistency will be the big question for Steve McNamara’s men.

So, what a way to kick the season off…with the biggest game in the RL calendar, a Saints-Wigan derby! Both teams will no doubt be out to put down a marker in what should be a bone-crunching encounter. Saints will hand a derby debut to impressive new signings Kevin Naiqama, Joseph Paolo and Lachlan Coote, while Wigan will see the temperamental but super-talented Zak Hardaker make his Warriors SL debut.

Two of the above would be in my tips for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award come October. Coote and Hardaker will no doubt have a massive bearing on their teams performances throughout the year. Two other obvious candidates to look out for would be Warrington marquee signing Blake Austin, 8/1 favourite with Betfred, and if Catalan are to challenge past-winner Sam Tomkins will play a big part.

One player I would love to see in the mix is the big man Alex Walmsley. After a superb 2017, 2018 was a right off due to a serious neck injury but great to see him back to lead the Saints charge...alongside the ever-impressive Luke Thompson.

The 2019 Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award will take on a new and fairer voting system, with every game have a 3,2,1 points system, voted by a panel of previous winners and highly-regarded people in the game. This will be headed up by the GOAT and three-times MOS winner Ellery Hanley. The ex-Saints boss will Chair the panel and make sure the award fairly recognises the game’s best player.

So, roll on Thursday. Let’s get behind the players and continue to support the greatest game in the world.