Super League hasn’t been short of stars in 2021. Every club has had a stand out performer with big names shining as expected whilst one or two underrated gems have come of age. But who was your club’s player of the year? Today we’re answering that question and giving you our picks for every club’s top performer in 2021.
Castleford: Paul McShane
Paul McShane went into the season as the reigning Man of Steel and plenty of people piled the pressure on the Castleford hooker to replicate his 2020 form. If he felt the weight of expectation, he never showed it and was again Castleford’s most important player creating tries for himself and the big blokes down the middle of the field whilst organising and creating a platform for others to attack. It’s no coincidence that Castleford’s season went wrong when he picked up a knock in Round 23. He was never the same after that and nor were the Tigers.
Catalans: Sam Tomkins
McShane’s Man of Steel Award was taken by Catalans fullback Sam Tomkins as the ex-Wigan man produced arguably his greatest ever season. Yes, his style of play might not have been quite as exhilarating as it was when he last won the Man of Steel in 2012, but he was something else this year. Combining skill, speed and experience to devastate teams and create tries for the potent backs on his outside, he racked up over 20 assists as well as a handful of tries as he romped to the Man of Steel award whilst guiding Catalans to a first League Leaders’ Shield and an inaugural Grand Final.
Huddersfield: Oliver Russell
A number of injuries in Huddersfield saw the Giants’ young stars take centre stage in 2021. Will Pryce showed his obvious class whilst Olly Ashall-Bott had his moments, but Oliver Russell impressed me the most. Young himself, he was often tasked with being the experienced halfback alongside Will Pryce and did so magnificently kicking well and creating a platform for Pryce and co to attack. A gutsy halfback, he refused to be bullied and was a determined leader all season even when things were tough.
Hull FC: Chris Satae
Chris Satae was unlucky to miss out on the Dream Team. In Scott Taylor’s absence, the prop stepped up at the start of the season with some huge performances playing big minutes. In many ways, he was the basis on which Hull’s positive start to the season was built. He showed great power going forward as he busted tackles and made huge metres. Even when things got tougher for the Black and Whites, he was still well in the wars.
Hull KR: Jordan Abdull
Few expected Jordan Abdull to have the season he did, but it was clear from early on in 2021 that the eventual Man of Steel nominee was going to have a special season. One of the few halfbacks in the league with an ability to do just about anything whether that’s create tries with accurate kicks, carve open defences with sharp passes or score tries himself thanks to his strong running style. Without him, Hull KR wouldn’t have finished anywhere near the top six or played in a first Super League semi-final.
Leeds: Kruise Leeming
The Super League Dream Team hooker was outstanding this season with over 20 combined tries and assists as he became Leeds’ most important attacking threat throughout the season. Undoubtedly at his best at nine were he controls the ruck and injects speed into the attack, he’s also done a magnificent job in the halves this year with an accomplished kicking game which saw him kick three 40/20s in 2021.
Leigh: Adam Sidlow
A try scoring prop is a rare commodity, but Leigh had one in the shape of Adam Sidlow this term. Things might have been even more difficult for the Centurions without the powerful forward who so often came up with a big moment when Leigh needed it in 2021 including a score in their inaugural win of the season.
Salford: Ken Sio
That came at the expense of Salford but even that shock defeat couldn’t take the shine of Ken Sio’s exceptional season. With 19 four-pointers to his name, he finished the season as the league’s top try scorer and even earnt a place in the Super League Dream. With pace and power, he’s a brilliant modern winger.
St Helens: Jack Welsby
Now a two-time Grand Final winner, Jack Welsby wasn’t quite so central to the Grand Final triumph itself this year as he was the last but he was at the heart of the journey there. Playing fullback, centre, wing and in the halves, Welsby excelled all over the park with 13 tries and 13 assists throughout the regular season.
Wakefield: Jay Pitts
A consistent performer in the backrow for Wakefield even when things were tough mid-season, Pitts provided guts and defensive stability all season whilst being a leader in the Wakefield pack. An underrated backrower with every attribute you’d want from a top notch second-row, he very rarely produced a poor performance in 2021.
Warrington: Gareth Widdop
Gareth Widdop was something else in the first half of the season scoring tries for fun and creating scores for those around him as we saw the Widdop who’d tormented the NRL for years. Alongside Blake Austin at the start of the season, the two formed the league’s best halfback pairing before the arrival of George Williams added further quality but didn’t stop Widdop from shinning.
Wigan: Joe Shorrocks
The league’s top tackler in 2021, Joe Shorrocks was a consistent performer during Wigan’s inconsistent campaign. Always willing to work hard in the middle of the field, he was a great substitute forward for Adrian Lam to call upon and even did a job at hooker throughout the season.