The latest “top 5” comes in the form of Super League’s number nines. Who makes this list?
5. Michael McIlorum
McIlorum has been fantastic since his move to the south of France at the end of 2017. His aggression and tenacity around the ruck has ensured that the Catalans middle strikes fear into the heart of opponents. The difference he makes to Catalans’ field position is huge, and they’re a far better side with the former Wigan hooker on the pitch. He will unfortunately miss the first few games of the season due to a six-match ban McIlorum received in the play offs.
4. Sam Powell
Powell was a key component of Wigan’s race to the League Leaders’ Shield in 2020. One of the main factors in their success was their resilient defence and Powell’s contribution to this is evident in the fact he made the second most tackles out of anyone in the league, with 705. His attacking effort is not to be overlooked either, as he scored an impressive 12 tries in all competitions. Seems to have gone from strength-to-strength since Micky McIlorum’s departure.
3. Paul McShane
McShane had the best season of his career in 2020, and was named Man of Steel as a result. Almost everything Castleford did well last year seemed to be down to his work. Despite a relatively disappointing season for the Tigers, McShane’s brilliance will be a promising sign as they go into this season with ambitions for silverware. The hooker is within a shot of an England call-up for the first time, hopefully with the World Cup in sight.
2. James Roby
Roby is arguably the best hooker Super League has ever seen. He has been the most consistent Super League player of the last ten years, and has helped Saints to three Grand Final wins in that time. He is a natural leader and looks likely to leave Super League at the very top, but has been slightly eclipsed in quality in recent seasons by the player who tops this list. Will still be an incredibly important cog in the St Helens wheel as the Lancashire club aim for three Super League titles in a row.
1. Daryl Clark
Clark is right up there with the best players in Super League. His 2019 season was one of the best a hooker has produced as the England international has an incredible talent for completely dictating the momentum of a game. His runs from acting half are the last thing opponents want to see, whilst Clark’s decision making, pace and work rate have been vital for Warrington during his time there. Should walk into Shaun Wane’s England side at the end of the year for the World Cup.