With Christmas now out of the way and the year of 2018 now over, we look forward to the year of 2019 with such hope.
The countdown until the start of the Super League 2019 season is on, and Wigan Warriors will be aiming to defend their title after beating Warrington Wolves in last season’s Grand Final.
It is a new era for some clubs with new coaches in charge at Leeds and Wigan while London are back in Super League, replacing relegated Widnes.
In our team guide we assess how all 12 clubs are shaping up for the new season and make our Super League predictions for 2019.
2018 finish (after 23 rounds): 1st
Prospects: St Helens were by far the standout side in Super League last season until slipping up at the business end and they are worthy favourites in the Super League betting.
Exciting full-back Ben Barba was integral to their success but, despite the Australian heading home, Saints still have a strong squad after bringing in the likes of Lachlan Coote, Kevin Naiqama and Joseph Paulo from the NRL.
2018 finish: 4th
Prospects: Warrington had an impressive first campaign under Steve Price, losing in both the Challenge Cup final and Grand Final. The Wolves stunned Saints in the semis to give them the belief they can be major contenders over the next couple of years.
Price strengthened his squad mid-season with the return of former England winger Josh Charnley from rugby union and has brought in some more solid signings during the winter.
2018 finish: 2nd
Prospects: It’s all change at Wigan this season after Shaun Wane ended his time in charge of the Warriors with another Super League title. Former Warrior Adrian Lam will take over for the 2019 season and will have to make do without full-back Sam Tomkins and second-rower John Bateman, who left for Catalans Dragons and the NRL respectively.
They have replaced Tomkins with Zak Hardaker, giving the 27-year-old another chance on his return from a drugs ban, and the former England international will provide another attacking dimension with his flair and pace.
2018 finish: 7th
Prospects: Wakefield have slowly improved year on year under Chris Chester and could be the value bet in the Super League 2019 odds after bringing in some clever signings.
Veteran half-back Danny Brough will bring experience, creativity and organisation while George King and Craig Kopczak will provide consistency. Wakefield will be a team to be feared, especially at home.
2018 finish: 9th
Prospects: Leeds have appointed David Furner as coach and splashed the cash this winter in a bid to turn around their fortunes. The Rhinos suffered another poor season in 2018, struggling with injuries and sacking Brian McDermott before having to battle to retain their Super League status just 12 months after winning the title.
But Furner should bring a fresh approach and, despite the departure of stalwarts Joel Moon and Ryan Hall, the arrivals of Trent Merrin, Konrad Hurrell and Tui Lolohea could have a big impact.
2018 finish: 3rd
Prospects: The departure of Hardaker and injuries to key men such as Luke Gale and Greg Eden severely hampered Castleford’s quest for another Grand Final.
Daryl Powell did a fine job to guide the Tigers to third place, but they have yet to add to their squad and have let a few fringe players leave. They will need their team spirit to shine through again next term to keep up with the pace-setters.
2018 finish: 8th
Prospects: The Dragons’ league form deteriorated as they concentrated on the Challenge Cup final, which paid off as they stunned Warrington at Wembley. Steve McNamara has finally seen his work pay off in France and has turned around their fortunes following a challenging start.
The former England coach has added experience to his team with the captures of Tomkins and Matty Smith, but it will be their away form that determines how well they do.
2018 finish: 6th
Prospects: Hull could not wait for last term to end following a shocking run of form. Lee Radford will need to address that during the off-season to ensure Hull can still mix it with the big boys.
Yet the Black and Whites have failed to bring in any inspiring signings and will need to avoid injuries, something they have not done in previous years, if they are to mount any form of top-four challenge.
2018 finish: 5th
Prospects: Simon Woolford reinvigorated Huddersfield quickly and somehow took them to fifth before the Super 8s started.
The Giants kept hold of the services of England winger Jermaine McGillvary, but losing Brough will be a major blow and could hamper their quest for another top-eight finish.
2018 finish: 10th
Prospects: Hull KR retained their top-flight status in their first season back and will want to kick on and try to break into the top eight.
Rovers have had a mass clear-out and brought in some experienced players in Weller Hauraki, Jimmy Keinhorst and Mitch Garbutt, with Josh Drinkwater bought in the partner Leeds great Danny McGuire, who playing his final campaign before retirement, yet they may need more time to break out of the bottom four.
Salford Red Devils
2018 finish: 11th
Prospects: Salford did arguably the best business in the off-season by keeping Jackson Hastings on their books. The Australian half-back was influential in helping the Red Devils secure safety and will be a player to be feared by opposition teams.
Salford have also brought back Ken Sio to England but they will find it difficult to break into that top eight this term.
2018 finish: 2nd in Championship
Prospects: London upset the rugby league odds to beat Toronto in their own back yard in the Million Pound Game and end a four-year absence from Super League. Danny Ward did a remarkable job to build a team to compete this time last year and will need to do so again in the top flight.
Ryan Morgan has come in on loan from St Helens and Jordan Abdull has arrived from Hull, two of six new signings so far, But nobody of huge quality has been added to this high-end Championship side.
The departure of Jarrod Sammut to Wigan will be a major blow to their hopes of staying up but they will shock a few teams along the way and could potentially finish 10th or 11th.