It’s the main award that individual players dream of getting hold of each year, and it’s had a revamp for this season, so who do we expect to be the main contenders this year?
Here is my run down of the most likely player from each club in Super League this year, there might be the odd surprise in here, there might not.
Castleford Tigers: The easy one to put forward from Castleford would have been 2017 winner Luke Gale, without him most people would probably suggest Paul McShane, but personally I think the one to watch out for here is captain Michael Shenton.
The Tigers left edge is often spoken about and much vaunted, and Shenton is the main man in that set-up, so I would expect him to be somewhere at the forefront for the award at the end of the year.
Hull FC: Again, with my team there is an easy contender to put forward, in 2016 winner Danny Houghton, the other most likely nomination from Black & Whites fans is Jake Connor, but I’m not going with either of these two!
For me, the most likely contender from the KCOM Stadium is vice-captain Scott Taylor. Since his arrival at his boyhood team Taylor has been a consistently excellent performer and, having lost his England place at the end of last season, is likely to redouble his efforts to regain his international chance this year.
Hull KR: The old romantics would probably love to see Danny McGuire have a barnstorming final season, others might expect new captain Joel Tomkins to shine.
But personally I think I’m going to expect a big season from Scotland international Kane Linnet. The former NRL Grand Final winner with North Queensland Cowboys will have to be a standout, if Rovers are going to make the big strides many seem to be expecting, and he is capable of that once he’s settled in.
Warrington Wolves: Again an obvious contender would be 2014 winner Daryl Clark, another one would be England prop and Wolves captain Chris Hill.
However, there is one name at Warrington on everyone’s lips, and that is Blake Austin, their new superstar arrival from the NRL, so in this case, yes I am going for the most obvious contender. Austin is a quality addition to coach Steve Price’s side and much is expected of him, which he is likely to deliver.
St. Helens: A contender last season, before being beaten by former teammate Ben Barba, was hooker James Roby, and he is likely to be in the mix again.
However, I think the man most likely to be Saints main contender has got to be forward Luke Thompson. Having had a great season in 2018, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the young prop making even more of an impression this year.
Wigan Warriors: The champions also have a recent winner in their ranks, in 2015 winner Zak Hardaker, but he isn’t the man I expect to take the award this time if it goes to a Wigan player!
As often as he seems to miss games through injury, I believe captain Sean O’Loughlin to be the man to snare the top prize for the Warriors. In a season of transition, with a temporary coach in charge, the role of the captain has become more integral for the defending champions, if Lockers has the sort of influence he is capable of, he can make the difference for Wigan.
Huddersfield Giants: With 2013 winner Danny Brough now having departed for pastures new, there is no obvious contender for the Giants, although most would probably point the finger at former Golden Boot nominee Jermaine McGillvary!
But the player I’m expecting to make the biggest impression at Huddersfield this year, is returning star Joe Wardle. His ability to play back-row or centre, and his influence should not be underestimated, he works extremely hard, and returning to his old club could be a big tonic for him.
Salford Red Devils: It has to be said that Salford do have some obvious contenders for this massive award, particularly Jackson Hastings and Rob Lui, but again I’m going for a different contender.
With the aggressive Junior S’au as his centre, I expect Ken Sio to have a great influence at the AJ Bell Stadium, he is a predator who will probably receive the sort of service he relies on. If he gets up and running soon, Sio will likely be a 20+ tries scorer this year.
Wakefield Trinity: With 2013 winner Danny Brough now in their ranks, you would get short odds on him being their main contender this year, or the barnstorming pair of either David Fifita or Paulie Paulie.
However I’m tipping centre Bill Tupou to be Trinity’s main contender for the biggest individual prize in the game. The big strong centre has strength and pace, as well as being an aggressive defender, don’t be surprised to see him there or thereabouts.
London Broncos: They might be everyone’s tip to go straight back down, but the Broncos do have an ace up their sleeve, if they were to stay up, most of it would probably be attributed to one man, especially since Jarrod Sammut’s departure.
Eddie Battye is an old style forward, and one who can get London on the front foot, with his aggressive style. What he never lacks in, is impact. If he gets off to a good start, he could be the man who catches Super League most by surprise.
Leeds Rhinos: The new look Rhinos have several contenders for the main award in 2019, including Trent Merrin, Konrad Hurrell and captain Kallum Watkins, but it’s another new arrival who I’m tipping to be their main contender.
Tui Lolohea is a high quality addition in their half backs, and if they are going to be successful, an awful lot of it is going to come from their new star stand-off half. Much will depend on his partnership with Richie Myler, but if they get it right, Lolohea could be a huge headline grabber.
Catalans Dragons: The new Challenge Cup holders also have many contenders in their ranks, with previous winner Sam Tomkins having arrived at Stade Gilbert Brutus for the 2019 season, he would be an obvious condidate.
Others would include PNG superstar David Mead and Lance Todd Trophy winner Tony Gigot, but personally I think the main man to watch this time could be their captain Remi Casty. He is the aggressive sort of player that the Dragons usually deal in and, if he can smarten up his discipline, he is likely to be a big influence on his side once again this year!