WHAT a fantastic start to the Betfred Super League 2019!

And particularly for the mighty Saints - a quality opening triumph over arch rivals Wigan.

As well as taking the two points from a team who will no doubt be one of our biggest challengers for silverware this season, there have been numerous reasons for everyone associated with the club to smile.

The return – and in style - of Alex Walmsley. The big man certainly didn’t hold back in his first Super League game since a serious neck injury in 2018.

The introduction of Lachlan Coote. Although still fresh from pre-season and still a little game rusty, we saw some class touches and superb positional play which will certainly excite the Saints fans.

Two major contractual announcements! Mr Perpetual Motion and club skipper James Roby tying down the rest of his career to the club he loves with a three year contract in the bag, Robes will have amassed 20 years at the club, an amazing feat…especially the way he plays and at a standard I can honestly say never less than an 8/10! And again he lead from the front with a try-scoring MOM performance in the opening win.

As well as Robes, current Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson agreed a four year deal.

This is a massive coup for the club, and shows the player’s belief in both the club and the Betfred Super League. I’ve no doubts there will have been numerous interests from the NRL to try and secure Tommy’s signature after his current Saints deal expired.

However, great that he has committed his immediate future to the club and a nice thank you for their loyalty during some testing times early in his career.

Lastly and probably not in the spirit of the game, but something I’m sure brought a wry smile to some Saints fans, was the two point deduction and fine to the Wigan Warriors for a breach of salary cap rules. The Wigan board will be appealing this, but as we stand Saints are four points clear of their great rivals after round one!

As I expected, Warrington look the real deal this year and were convincing winners against Leeds. Both Saints and Wire are not surprisingly joint-favourites with title sponsors Betfred, at 11/4 for Old Trafford glory.

As unexpected, but great to see was the London Broncos kick off their campaign with a dominant win over Wakefield Trinity. All credit to Danny Ward and his team. They won’t have done Saints any favours though as we travel to Belle Vue this weekend, and will no doubt face a team desperate to turn things around. It’s always a tough place to go, but I’m backing Saints to win by 12 points (11/10 at Betfred).

After round one, Wigan are third favourites at 11/2 to be champions with Betfred, Castleford are 7/1 while the wounded Rhinos have drifted to 9/1.

Finally, we have to mention the big news coming out of the NRL, the sacking of current Man of Steel and ex-Saints favourite Ben Barba. Following an incident in a Townsville casino, Barba was immediately sacked by the North Queensland Cowboys. It’s so disappointing to see this, especially after the way Ben carried himself during his 12 months in Super League. Unfortunately though, some players just don’t realise the opportunities that they have and the responsibility to act accordingly. I honestly can’t see any way back for him this time…sadly a complete waste of an outstanding talent.