Salford Red Devils’ Brodie Croft amazing turnaround to see off Wigan Warriors’ Jai Field to pick up the Man of Steel

Salford Red Devils’ mercurial half back, Brodie Croft was named the 2022 Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel last night.

Croft saw off competition from Jack Welsby and Jai Field to be crowned Man of Steel in his first season with the Red Devils. Croft also becomes only the second Salford player to win the award, following in the footsteps of Jackson Hastings who lifted the trophy in 2019.

It was a season of two halves for the Red Devils in 2022 and it was that dramatic second half turnaround in form, that saw Croft climb the weekly leaderboard. Croft claimed points in 6 of Salford’s last nine fixtures to top the leaderboard at the end of the regular season.

This season Croft missed just one regular season game, in round 27, and in those appearances, he contributed 25 try assists, 7 tries to Salford’s campaign. However, his involvement went deeper than just scoring, he also featured in the top 10 for carries (433), metres (2761) and clean breaks (30).

Croft was presented his award by two-time Man of Steel and former team-mate and friend of Steve Prescott, Paul Sculthorpe MBE at the Betfred Super League Awards in Leeds.

Sculthorpe said of Croft: “Being a two-time Man of Steel, I know first-hand what it means to a player to receive this recognition.

“Brodie has shown all season what an exceptional talent he is. His creative flair, leadership and doggedness have been as huge asset to Paul Rowley’s rejuvenated Salford Red Devils team.

“It is no shock that the run Salford put together at the end of the season was mirrored by an exceptional series of performances from Brodie. Highlighted by the 25 try assists he provided this season.”

Croft certainly defied the odds to pick up the award. After all his arrival at Salford was seen as a gamble whilst the Red Devils were expected to finish in the bottom three.

Meanwhile, after a decent start, Salford certainly weren’t showing play-off form nor was Brodie Croft showing Man of Steel form.

In fact, by the time the Man of Steel points stopped being public he was 22nd in the rankings with just seven points. He was behind halfback partner Marc Sneyd who made the top ten as well as Saints contingent Tommy Makinson, Jack Welsby and Sione Mata’utia who, along with Huddersfield and Wigan who had two players in the top 10 each, dominated the early top 10 with Mitchell Pearce and Jake Connor well in the running.

However, the winner seemed set to be one of Super League’s other fullbacks with Jai Field and Tui Lolohea leading the way with 19 points each after 15 games.

Field was many people’s pick for the award especially going into last night whilst Lolohea fell out of the top three with Jack Welsby climbing into it despite only being on 12 points after 15 rounds.

However, the real story is the fact Brodie Croft came from being 12 points behind Field and Lolohea to not just finishing in the top three but claiming the award outright.

It’s very reminiscent of Jackson Hastings’ turn around in 2019 when Blake Austin led the way until Hastings’ late season form saw him pick up the award.

The star at the centre of Salford’s outstanding second half of the season, Croft likely picked up points in almost every game and more often than not scooped all three points whilst Field began to share the limelight with Bevan French in the second half of the season which made Wigan more of a threat but likely saw him share Man of Steel points with his partner in crime.

Man of Steel table after Round 15:

1 Jai Field 19 points
2 Tui Lolohea 19 points
3 Mitchell Pearce 15 points
4 Tommy Makinson 12 points
5 Jack Welsby 12 points
6 Danny Levi 11 points
7 Sione Mata’utia 10 points
8 Jake Connor 9 points
9 Marc Sneyd 9 points
10 Liam Farrell 9 points
22 Brodie Croft 7 points