11th March 2019, 07:57 | super_league

Ellery Hanley Column: Man of Steel

Ellery Hanley Column: Man of Steel

Wow…what a start to Super League we’ve had this season!

Wow…what a start to Super League we’ve had this season, it really has been a ‘New Beginning’, the pace of the game has been ferocious with some real superstar performances.

We’re five rounds into the season and as Chairman of the new Steve Prescott Man of Steel panel I can say this new process is really highlighting some big performances from some amazing athletes!

Quite clearly, James Roby, has been the star performer having only dropped one point out of a maximum of 12. The hooker has been phenomenal for St Helens; 3 tries, 2 assists, 190 tackles and 378 metres with an average gain of 8.59 metres is extraordinary, at the moment well-worthy of top spot and was rested in their Round 5 fixture. 

Whilst Roby is proving to be star man every week, at Cas it has been shared out across five players showing the strength of Daryl Powell's squad, further reinforced with three players in the top 10; Liam Watts, Paul McShane, and Jake Trueman.

McShane is a top hooker, he’s Mr. Consistent for Castleford, like Roby, he can do everything, he puts his side on the front foot with strong tackling in defence and five try assists.

Jake Trueman for a player of his age is mature beyond his years, he won the Young Player of the Year in 2018, and he’s been vital in Castleford’s games so far this season creating attacks from scrum-half. 

It could be the year for a forward to win it, at the moment one in four of the top 20 are props, Castleford’s Liam Watts is currently the highest in the standings and he’s been a real driving force making 525 metres, that’s averaging 131.25 metres a game, and he’s relentless in defence having made 132 tackles.

It’s been a competitive Betfred Super League this year, London Broncos’ win in Round 4 showed that any team on their day can beat anyone, their prop Eddie Battye has impressed the panellists playing on raw emotion, setting the platform for London’s defence and attack. 

The last prop to win the Man of Steel award was James Graham back in 2008, since then only two forwards have won the award and they were both hookers, Daryl Clark in 2014 and Danny Houghton in 2016.

Unfortunately, there’s no players in the top 20 from either of the last two Grand Final winning teams Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos, however, they’re under new management and given time I’m sure we’ll see them move up the table.

I was able to watch Hull FC’s first win of the season against my old club, Wigan, Jamie Shaul really disrupted and panicked the Wigan defence, he had them scrambling back, and his organisation of his front-line defence was first class, so he’s fully deserving of his place in the top three.

All of the panellists have enjoyed watching the opening rounds, their insight is priceless and hopefully it will shape the worthy winner of the game’s ultimate individual accolade and I'll look forward to seeing the results from Round 5 tomorrow!