3 Feb 2021

Five centres to watch in 2021

Who are your five centres to watch in 2021?

Jack Welsby (St Helens)

We couldn’t start this list with anyone other than St Helens’ Grand Final hero. From boxer Tony Bellew to golfer Lee Westwood, Jack Welsby’s last-minute try was a moment that captured the attention of the sporting world. Welsby is one of Betfred Super League’s most versatile talents. That versatility – which saw him play at full-back, wing, centre and half-back last season - was required in abundance. In all honesty, we could have included him in a list of ‘five to watch’ anywhere in the backs. But it was in the centre that he shone towards the back end of 2020 - deputising for the injured Mark Percival - and Saints head coach Kristian Woolf thinks it could be his best position.  If you speak to those inside Saints, they will tell you Welsby is an England international in the making and a player who has the acumen to make it to the very top of the sport – chairman Eamonn McManus said so himself. So, expect more big things from Welsby in 2021.

Jake Wardle (Huddersfield Giants)

Jake Wardle has emerged as one of Super League’s brightest young players.  The centre enjoyed an excellent 2020 season on Huddersfield Giants’ left-edge. He is a young man destined for great things in rugby league.  Before agreeing a new contract with Giants, there was talk that the 22-year-old could move to the NRL - his performances were that good. Under the watchful eye of new head coach Ian Watson, Giants fans will be hopeful Wardle can continue to hit those high standards in 2021.

Zak Hardaker (Wigan Warriors)

Zak Hardaker’s move from full-back to centre at the start of the 2020 campaign proved to be a masterstroke from Adrian Lam. Hardaker was one of the most consistent performers throughout the season and played an integral role in Wigan Warriors’ run to the Grand Final. He had 82 tackle busts - only bettered by teammate Bevan French. Hardaker also proved his worth defensively: combining well with the likes of Willie Isa, Tommy Leuluai and Dom Manfredi to form a formidable right-edge. It’s not just in Super League where Hardaker could make an impact in 2021. He’ll surely be in Shaun Wane’s plans if the World Cup goes ahead later this year.  

Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos) 

Few players matched the influence of Harry Newman in 2020, so the fact his campaign ended in the worst possible fashion - with a serious injury – was a disappointment shared by everyone in the game. Any young player who graduates via Leeds Rhinos' youth system is bound to draw attention from across the sport. Matching the skill and achievements of the ‘golden generation’ is a tough ask, but Newman is on the right track. His efforts in 2020 saw him named Super League Young Player of the Year. The hope is that he could return to full training in March and continue to build on his already impressive resume as a Rhino. 

Greg Inglis (Warrington Wolves)

Having achieved pretty much everything in the sport of rugby league, Greg Inglis is the biggest off-season acquisition in Super League. Over the course of his decorated career, the Australian has won NRL premierships, a World Cup and appeared in 32 State of Origin matches. His individual awards include the Clive Churchill Medal and Wally Lewis Medal. Inglis retired in 2019 due to ongoing injury troubles, but he was tempted out of retirement by Warrington Wolves. After arriving in the UK last month, Inglis said it would take him five or six rounds to get up to speed. Once he does, Wolves are going to have some player on their hands.