Steve Prescott Man of Steel – Main Contenders

Widnes Vikings v Castleford Tigers

The award season is nearly here and I thought I’d pick my contenders to be crowned man of steel.

 

Bill Tupou – Wakefield Trinity

The rise of Tupou and consistence of Trinity this season isn’t a one off in 2018. Wakefield
finished 6
th
in 2017 and in the top eight in 2016 with Tupou playing a large part in that
success. His partnership with sensational winger Tom Johnstone is the envy of most clubs,
and he has shown in 2018 in particular why he’s easily in the top 5 centres in Super League.

Paul McShane – Castleford Tigers

McShane probably has one of the greatest ‘down but not out’ stories in rugby league’s
recent history. He was cut from the Leeds ranks after only a handful of appearances, with
loan spells to Widnes and Hull FC to boot but it’s once he found his feet at the Tigers that
things have really taken off. He’s an uncompromising hooker who tackles hard, makes
yardage but is just as comfortable deputising for Luke Gale in the halves when needed,
thanks to a fantastic kicking game. For me, he’s only behind Roby as the best hooker in Super
League and that’s testament to hard graft and willingness to prove those that doubt him
wrong.

James Roby – St. Helens

James Roby. What can I say about this man that already hasn’t been said? He’s the finest of
rugby league’s wine, he gets even better with age. He still tackles like a machine and his
leadership skills are second to none. Once Saints embarked upon a journey that would see
them as this season’s standout team, he was always going to get a mention as a candidate
for the big gong come Grand Final week. He’s many people’s favourite for the award and
rightly so.

John Bateman – Wigan Warriors

The Warriors have gone into full-on Grand Final mode recently and it’s thanks largely to
Canberra Raiders – bound Bateman for his work ethic and determination to end his time
with Wigan in the greatest way possible. He’s comfortable in the centres, where Wayne
Bennett picks him at international level, but it’s in the second row where Bateman excels so
much that even the top dogs in the NRL rate him. He hits like a truck and he has the strength
to go with it.

Danny Richardson – St. Helens

Richardson started the season behind two-time Grand Final winner Matty Smith at Saints
before sealing his opportunity so well that Smith mid-season found himself at Sheffield
Eagles. Richardson is dubbed the next Sean Long and that in itself is reason to sit up and take
notice. He has such calmness under the greatest pressure that there’s no panic in tight
games because Richardson will surely secure the victory for his side, all that said and he’s
just 21-years old. For me, the half-back the international side have been crying out for since
Long retired.

My thoughts on who will ultimately win

A lot was said of the earn season form of Ben Barba but that has since fallen short possibly
because of the transfer speculation linking him to the North Queensland Cowboys in the
NRL. So for me he certainly won’t be in the running. Out of those above I feel McShane,
Roby and Bateman will be the top three with Bateman taking the award. Although Roby has
been great, we expect that of him so when others step up they get noticed more which has
happened with McShane and Bateman.

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