Four members of the England Wheelchair squad are in the running to win Rugby League’s newest individual award – the Wheels of Steel – at the sport’s biggest and most inclusive Awards Night at Emirates Old Trafford next month.
For the first time in 2023, the outstanding player in the Betfred Wheelchair Super League will be recognised alongside the Woman of Steel and the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel.
A stunning new trophy has been commissioned and will be unveiled on Tuesday October 10, when the Coach of the Year and Young Player of the Year will also be celebrated as part of the build-up to Grand Finals week in Manchester – with the Betfred Wheelchair Super League Grand Final again being shown live on Sky Sports, from the Manchester Basketball Centre in Belle Vue on Sunday October 15.
The shortlist for the Wheels of Steel includes two players from London Roosters, and one each from reigning champions Halifax Panthers, and League Leaders Leeds Rhinos – who clash in the first Semi Final this Saturday evening.
The two contenders from the Roosters, who finished second in the Super League table to earn a home Semi Final against Wigan Warriors on Sunday week (October 8), are Joe Coyd and Lewis King.
Sebastien Bechara, who won the International Rugby League Wheelchair Golden Boot last autumn after excelling in England’s World Cup campaign, is nominated after impressive performances both for the Panthers in the Super League, and for Catalans Dragons in the Challenge Cup.
Leeds Rhinos are represented by Josh Butler, who has already earned a recall to the England squad this year, and was named their player of the season at the Rhinos’ awards night earlier this week.
Butler is in the running for two awards as he is also among the nominees for the Young Player of the Year Award – which is open to all players who were 23 or under at the start of the 2023 season.
Also nominated in that category are Arun Bains of the Roosters and Tom Green of the Panthers.
The three nominees for Coach of the Year include Hull FC’s Mike Swainger, recognition for a season of significant progress.
He is joined by two more key figures in England’s World Cup triumph last autumn, who both received MBEs in the King’s Birthday Honours List in recognition of their contribution: Tom Coyd MBE, the head coach of both England and London Roosters; and James Simpson MBE, who steered Leeds Rhinos to the League Leaders Shield in his first season as a non-playing head coach after retiring as a player last winter.
Betfred Wheelchair Super League Semi Finals
Saturday September 30 – Leeds Rhinos v Halifax Panthers (The Edge, Leeds – 645pm)
Sunday October 8 – London Roosters v Wigan Warriors (Sportsdock, University of East London – 1pm)
Betfred Wheelchair Super League Awards Nominees
Wheels of Steel
Sebastian Bechara (Halifax Panthers)
Josh Butler (Leeds Rhinos)
Joe Coyd (London Roosters)
Lewis King (London Roosters)
Young Player of the Year
Arun Bains (London Roosters)
Josh Butler (Leeds Rhinos)
Tom Green (Halifax Panthers)
Coach of the Year
Tom Coyd (London Roosters)
James Simpson (Leeds Rhinos)
Mike Swainger (Hull FC)