Cameron Smith at Leeds Rhinos, Morgan Smithies at Wigan Warriors and Luke Yates at Huddersfield Giants; Super League is full of top notch loose-forwards.
Two of them have been battling for the top tackler award but one of them could now be set to miss out because of a suspension.
This is Huddersfield skipper Yates, undoubtedly one of the best 13s in Super League.
Ian Watson has spoken about the ban and is certainly unhappy:
“They’re saying something that they can see which we can’t see and everybody else kind of can’t see to be fair. But look, it’s one of them things, they’re paid to do a job and to highlight certain things and to protect players and I get that.
“I’d probably say from our side we’ve not challenged anything where we thought it wasn’t justified. I mean we didn’t go and challenge the Jack Ashworth one because we thought that was just a rush of blood and in the heat of the moment thing and yeah Jack got it wrong so we’ve not challenged.
We’ve not challenged all year to be fair on issues as we’ve generally agreed with things but with the Luke Yates one, we totally disagreed with why they brought him up and why they put him up on there on a dangerous contact charge.
“It was kind of beyond me a little bit and to label it reckless as well, when you’ve got a player who’s played, what, 23 games this year, he’s made the most tackles in Super League, he’s made 980 tackles and he’s only been penalised nine times in all of those tackles.
“I think three of them were for offside, so that brings it down to six and then there was two penalties for hands in on kind of on the rook. Well, there’s five of them straight away. So there’s actually only four penalties he’s given away that have actually maybe involved contact.
“For a player to do that was making 980 tackles and as an opportunity to maybe win the kind of the hit man of the year award yeah it’s a shame it’s kind of come to that but yeah I think it proves he’s not a reckless player and that he generally makes good judgment in and around his contact.
“So we felt obviously appealing his situation, the history he’s got and what he’s shown in terms of all them games could have potentially been enough to kind of get it overthrown, but they’ve seen it differently. So it is what it is.”
When asked about Yates’ reaction, Watson said:
“No, no, he’s devastated. He wanted it to go further, he wasn’t happy with certain things on it. He plays the game tough and aggressive, which everybody knows, but everyone’s watched Luke Yates play over the last three four years will know that Luke Yates isn’t a reckless player and that he generally has good good control of his contacts when he’s going in there.
“So yeah he’s devastated he can’t play. I think it probably, it robs him of an opportunity a little bit really to, to what, he’s worked really hard for us this year mate and led from the front in terms of a captain in what’s been a difficult year for us. And he’s always stood tall.
“It would have been nice for him to have maybe got some recognition, hopefully he still does for the work that he’s put in, that he still gets recognised for that because I think everyone knows through the game of rugby league he isn’t a reckless player.”
He also said the ban will cost Yates the award:
“I probably maybe didn’t explain it well enough. But yeah, he was upset, mate. He’s upset that he’s not playing.
“He trains really hard all week because he loves to play rugby at the weekend. So he wants to play every single game and he wants an opportunity as well to be able to maybe, he’s in with a position to win that Hitman of the Year award as well.
“Like I say, for the amount of work he’s done for us as well, it would be good recognition for him in achieving that. But it might be that he’s not, he doesn’t get that opportunity now because I think is it Cameron Smith who’s just below him, maybe overtakes him this game and then maybe it’s a bridge too far to be able to catch up in the next game.
“Now he’s not really too bothered about the individual accolades. That’s me personally. I just think it’d be a good reward for the amount of work that he puts in and it rewards him for the efforts that he does do week in week out for us to be fair.”