The Aviva Premiership rolls around again in a couple of weekend’s time, with Ladbrokes’ market suggesting five teams at most from the 12-club league can claim Grand Final victory next May.
After 9/1 fifth-favourites Northampton, it’s a long way back to 18/1 Bath, so the Saints, 5/4 favourites Saracens, 7/2 Wasps, 5/1 Exeter and 7/1 Leicester look to have this between them if the bookies are anything to go by.
Sarries look as strong as ever, adding awesome veteran South Africa flanker Schalk Burger to their ranks over the summer, plus Scotland international Sean Maitland on the wing, among others.
There are reasons to doubt Mark McCall’s side’s quest for a third title in a row though, none more so than the fact that many of their star men will be required for Six Nations action during the middle of the Premiership campaign.
Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Alex Goode, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Mako Vunipola and his brother Billy are all elite members of reigning Northern Hemisphere champions England’s squad, with most of that septet likely to be regular starters in Eddie Jones’ XV.
Saracens managed to pull off a spectacular Aviva Premiership/European Champions Cup double last season despite these dual commitments, but the brutal demands of another club and country campaign could start to creep up on McCall’s men.
Wasps, on the other hand, have pulled off some spectacular signings during pre-season, with the two most eye-catching set to be available throughout the campaign.
Australian utility back Kurtley Beale becomes the highest-paid player in England after his move to the Ricoh Arena, but the arrival of South Africa full-back Willie le Roux, arguably the best number 15 on the planet, may be even more crucial.
They’re joined by Danny Cipriani from Sale, a fly-half of international class unlikely to get a game any time soon under Jones, and former Bath centre Kyle Eastmond, while the continued resurgence of winger Christian Wade will be closely watched.
It’s not hard to see why Wasps are 7/2 second-favourites to break Sarries’ stranglehold on this competition.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.