The highest individual accolade
“Like the diverse range of panellists, the nominees so far this season represent the diverse range of players; from stand-off’s to props and full backs to hookers, whoever wins the award will have thoroughly deserved the accolade. "
Super League’s race for the new-look Man of Steel couldn’t be much closer as the competition moves out of the public eye.
Warrington Wolves’ Blake Austin and Salford Red Devils’ Jackson Hastings are level on 25 points as both their sides enter a crucial period of the season.
Loose forwards have been awarded the most Man of Steel awards (8); Ellery Hanley MBE won the award three times, Andy Farrell twice, Doug Laughton, Adrian Vowles and Paul Sculthorpe the other winners.
This year, the top-placed loose forward is currently Wigan Warriors’ Sean O’Loughlin in 37thplace.
Four full backs have been the winners in the past decade; Brett Hodgson, Sam Tomkins, Zak Hardaker and Ben Barba, with 21 points still to play for, the top ranked full backs, Lachlan Coote, Stefan Ratchford and Tomkins are still in with a chance.
Like loose forwards, the halves have been awarded the Man of Steel eight times, Castleford Tigers’ Luke Gale was the last player to win the award (2017).
Four halves are currently in the top ten, Austin and Hastings are level on points, while Jonny Lomax and George Williams sit in seventh and eighth respectively.
But with Castleford Tigers prop Liam Watts, Wakefield Trinity’s David Fifita and St Helens’ full back Coote making up a competitive top five, a variety of positions are being recognised.
Super League Chief Executive, Robert Elstone said: “The Steve Prescott (MBE) Man of Steel award is the game's highest individual award, and the new selection process is highlighting the many superstars.
“The new way in which the winner is selected has emphasised the outstanding qualities of a Super League player; the playmaking genius of Austin and Hastings, the power, toughness and resilience of Fifita and Watts, the game-changing opportunism of Daryl Clark and the enviable, 'coaches' dream' of week-in, week-out consistency served up by Coote and Lomax.
“Man of Steel mirrors the tightest and most exciting Super League season to date, with ten teams represented in the top 20 standings, reflecting the relentless competition for a play-off berth and the nail-biting battle to avoid relegation. It will go right to the wire."
It's level at the top!!! 👀😲 The round 22 points winners in the race to the @StevePrescott1 #ManOfSteel 💪
Round 22 is the last round where Man of Steel votes will be made public, the votes will now be hidden until the Awards Ceremony in October... pic.twitter.com/DrXGQVfZtM
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) July 15, 2019
HOW IT WORKS:
Judges are now responsible for choosing the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel, allocating points to players based on performances. This new system replaces a players’ vote.
Every Betfred Super League game is watched by a panel member who chooses three outstanding players – the best player gets three points, the runner-up receives two points, and one point is awarded to their third best player.
Player scores have been made public every week – but as stated at the start of the season these results will now be hidden until the awards ceremony in October.
Austin, recently named in the England Elite Performance Squad, has 19 tries to his name this season, making him the top scorer in Super League. With 11 assists, he has been directly involved in 30 tries.
Australian half-back Hastings is leading the way with assists (26) including six tries.
David Fifita and Liam Watts are the two highest-placed props, Watts has made the most offloads (51) in Super League, amassed 2664 metres, the most by any forward and averages 36 tackles a game this season.
Fifita has made the most tackle busts in Super League (119), he suffered an injury setback at Magic Weekend but averages over 100 metres a game and eight tries.
James Graham was the last prop to win the award back in 2008, there had only been three props to win it before Graham; Andy Platt, Gavin Miller and George Nicholls.
Panel Chairman, Ellery Hanley said: “The panel is an outstanding group of former players from across the generations who have experience of playing at the very top level of Rugby League.
“Like the diverse range of panellists, the nominees so far this season represent the diverse range of players; from stand-off’s to props and full backs to hookers, whoever wins the award will have thoroughly deserved the accolade.
“The excitement and run-in to this year’s Man of Steel represents the excitement of the competition this year, the pace of the game has been ferocious with some real superstar performances.”
The Betfred Super League Awards night is on October 6 at The Lowry theatre.
Tickets to the inaugural Super League Awards will be on sale from early August exclusively from the twelve Super League clubs. For more information please visit www.superleague.co.uk