St Helens full-back Ben Barba has been named the 2018 Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel.
The 29-year-old was voted the outstanding performer in the Betfred Super League season by a poll of his fellow players, and presented with the award at the climax of the annual ceremony in Manchester.
And for the first time, this year’s ceremony also crowned a Woman of Steel – Georgia Roche, the 17-year-old Castleford Tigers playmaker who becomes the inaugural winner of an award which recognises the rapid development of the women’s game in the last 12 months.
Shaun Wane was named Coach of the Year after steering Wigan Warriors to a fifth Grand Final in seven seasons in charge – the first time he has won that award, in his farewell season at his hometown club.
Warrington Wolves, who will face Wane’s Wigan at Old Trafford on Saturday, were named Betfred Super League Club of the Year – not only for reaching both the Grand Final and the Challenge Cup final at Wembley in August, but also for their equally strong off-field efforts with emphasis on growing crowds, fan engagement and their work in the community. One example of that was their leading role in the formation of Physical Disability Rugby League, which involved a Wolves team flying to Australia to play in the first ever PDRL World Club Challenge against South Sydney.
Leeds Rhinos won the Foundation of the Year award following success for their women’s team – who will play in the Women’s Super League Grand Final on Saturday against Wigan - plus the launch of a women’s under-19s team, the launch of a PDRL team, and a first victory in the Wheelchair Rugby League Grand Final in Kent.
Castleford’s 19-year-old half-back Jake Trueman was named Betfred Super League Young Player of the Year, and there were also individual awards for two of his Tigers team-mates: Paul McShane was Hit Man after making the most tackles (1160), and Luke Gale was Top Gun for the best kicking percentage (87.27% with 48 goals out of 55 attempts).
Barba added the Top Try-Scorer award to the Man of Steel after touching down 28 times, and Wakefield Trinity’s Tongan centre Bill Tupou was the leading Metre Maker with 4,114.
Barba is the eighth St Helens player to be named Man of Steel since the award was introduced in 1977, but the first since it was renamed in honour of the former Saints full-back Steve Prescott MBE in 2014.
He is the first Australian to win the award since the Wigan wing Pat Richards in 2010, and the sixth in all.
Full List of Award Winners
Hit Man (Top tackler) - Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers)
Metre Maker - Bill Tupou (Wakefield Trinity)
Top Gun - Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers)
Top Try Scorer - Ben Barba (St Helens)
Foundation of the Year - Leeds Rhinos Foundation
Club of the Year - Warrington Wolves
Coach of the Year - Shaun Wane (Wigan Warriors)
Young Player of the Year - Jacob Trueman (Castleford Tigers)
Woman of Steel - Georgia Roche (Castleford Tigers)
Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel - Ben Barba (St Helens)