Without doubt a success, the World Club Series didn't go at all to plan on the field for the Super League clubs involved. Warrington lost narrowly to St George Illawarra without ever really getting going, Wigan lost in an extra-time golden point encounter with Brisbane after an absolute war for 80 minutes beforehand, and South Sydney showed exactly why they're the best club in the world putting 39 unanswered points on the board against St Helens in their own back yard.
With round three rolling around to introduce some normality back in to the schedule, here are the best bets for the games ahead.
Back Leeds Rhinos -12.5pts to beat Huddersfield Giants
Leeds and Huddersfield couldn't have started the season any differently. While the Rhinos have enjoyed two relatively simple victories against decent opposition, Huddersfield have lost twice, second best by some distance in each game. West Yorkshire pride will be on the line, and with an extra week of rest behind a Leeds side littered with veterans, the home side are rightly big favourites for this one. Huddersfield are allowing dummy-half Luke Robinson a week off due to fatigue, and that leaves an awful lot of pressure on Lunt and Brough to perform, which they've failed to so far this year. One side are enjoying their rugby, and the other are not - that's a recipe for a big home win.
Back St Helens -17.5pts to beat Castleford Tigers
Having been beaten in the World Club Series final in the manner they were this could either be the best possible time for the Tigers to be playing Saints, or the worst. It all depends on the state of St Helens' mentality. Castleford aren't an easy side to play against, and won't make it easy for Saints in the slightest, especially with an extra week of rest and preparation behind them. However, back at home so soon after that loss, the best possible reaction for coach Kieron Cunningham would be a solid performance and important league win to restore some pride and belief, something St Helens do not lack.
Back Salford Red Devils to beat Hull FC
Last time out in the league, Salford well and truly lived up to their recent soap opera nature against St Helens, and completely capitulated at home after having actually made a good early start. Gareth Hock was suspended for two separate uses of his knee when making tackles, and has since left the club by mutual consent, raising doubts over his future in the game. However, if Salford can translate the manner in which they began the game against Saints, their defence from the first round against Warrington, and put in an 80 minute performance of that level, they might yet still get somewhere this year. Hull FC have started the season well, but are yet to really play any outstanding rugby. There's huge pressure on Salford to post their first points of the season here, or else we could see yet more drastic action from their owner.
Back Catalan Dragons to beat Warrington Wolves
Catalan Dragons aren't used to losing at home in the Super League, and they've made their home ground an extremely difficult place to go over the past few seasons. The hardness of the pitch, climate, and ease of preparation are all on their side, and that's before you take in to account the bonus of Warrington having played an extra competitive fixture in between the last round and this. Warrington will be seen as the favourites here by some, but it's never a good idea to bet against Catalan on occasions like this. Warrington could be missing one of their main men in Ratchford, and Monaghan is yet to find his scoring touch, so this could be a great opportunity for the Dragons.
Back Widnes Vikings to beat Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Wakefield have started this season so much better than anyone had expected them to, including myself. With a young, hungry squad itching to prove their doubters wrong, their brand of attacking rugby has brought them two wins from two so far this year. But this could be the week where they start being found out a little. While perhaps unfair to the Wildcats, it could be said that sides haven't really taken them seriously this season, and their wins are down to their opponents misplaced confidence, as much as their good rugby. That naïvety won't be repeated by Widnes though, who themselves are proving a tough nut to crack, especially with Rhys Hanbury is such good form, and playmaker Kevin Brown possibly on the verge of a return from concussion.