It’s been a whirlwind of a new season so far, but which players have stood out from each club?
Castleford Tigers – Jordan Turner
Paul McShane has arguably been Castleford’s greatest player in 2021, but the expectation is so high on the hooker’s shoulders that that is almost a given. However, Jordan Turner signed for the Tigers initially on a one-year deal after being pushed out of the reckoning at Huddersfield. With expectation low, the Jamaican international has shocked almost everyone with his brilliant performances up until now, including a devastating hat-trick in Castleford’s superb Challenge Cup semi-final win over Warrington.
Catalans Dragons – Mike McMeeken
One could say that things had gone stale for Mike McMeeken in the latter years of his Castleford career after joining the club in 2015, with a move to Catalans expected to rejuvenate the second-rower. And, that has happened and more since he settled in the south of France with his young family. McMeeken looks to be a little leaner and more athletic and that has left him a much bigger threat on the edges.
Huddersfield Giants – Ricky Leutele
After moving from Melbourne Storm ahead of the 2021 season, Ricky Leutele has settled in brilliantly well at the John Smith’s Stadium. A dangerous and experienced centre, Huddersfield have been a lot stronger out wide following Leutele’s arrival.
Hull FC – Chris Satae
It would have been Josh Reynolds had the halfback not been injured for a chunk of the season, however, Chris Satae has been an utter wrecking ball up front. The Tongan prop never takes a backwards step and has worked wonders in the pack for Hull in 2021.
Hull KR – Jordan Abdull
There can only be one winner for Hull KR and that’s Jordan Abdull. The halfback has been incredible for Rovers, kicking opposition teams to death and often winning games on his own. Tony Smith’s men won just three games in 2020 – they’ve already won more than that in 2021 and Abdull has been at the hub of that success.
Leeds Rhinos – Matt Prior
He’s been class ever since he arrived at Leeds last season, but Matt Prior seems to have taken those performances to another level in 2021. Always leading from the front, the prop is an inspiration in the pack for the Rhinos.
Leigh Centurions – Liam Hood
Leigh captain Liam Hood has performed admirably in 2021 in what has been a tremendously difficult period for the Centurions. There’s never any question that Hood won’t give his all for his side, but he has taken another step forward this year.
Salford Red Devils – Harvey Livett
After moving from Warrington, questions were raised about where Harvey Livett would play for Salford. However, the flame-haired goal-kicking utility back has settled in seamlessly at the AJ Bell Stadium with a number of impressive games at centre.
St Helens – Jack Welsby
He was the matchwinner in the 2020 Grand Final, but Jack Welsby has hit the ground running in 2021, outlining his credentials as a future England international. With apparently nowhere to play along the backline courtesy of Lachlan Coote, Mark Percival and Kevin Naiqama, Welsby has forced his way into Kristian Woolf’s reckoning, making it impossible for him to be left out.
Wakefield Trinity – Joe Westerman
At the age of 31, Joe Westerman has left it late to be hitting the form of his life, but that’s just what he’s been doing in 2021 for Wakefield. The loose-forward has been irrepressible in the pack for Trinity and has won countless man-of-the-match awards for his hardy performances this season.
Warrington Wolves – Gareth Widdop
Gareth Widdop has started the 2021 season like a house on fire after a disappointing 2020. The halfback has shown that elusive running game that made him an England international, causing havoc for a number of sides.
Wigan Warriors – Liam Farrell
What more does this man have to do to earn an England call-up? It’s been five years since he last played for the national side, but Liam Farrell is arguably the most in-form back-rower in the competition and has been for a considerable length of time.