Prop: Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves)
Hill beats off tough competition for the number eight jersey, leading Warrington’s charge for the top four this season as one of their few standout, consistent performers.
No Wolves forward has made more metres this season while the workhorse is second only to Daryl Clark in tackles, and he is the second-best prop in the whole division on both counts.
A prop’s work is often selfless and none more so than with Hill, who hasn’t scored a single try all season, but his effort and enthusiasm continue to drive him to the top.
Hooker: Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers)
The hardest choice comes at hooker, with Super League blessed with a number of brilliant nines. James Roby and Daryl Clark have both been immense for their respective sides, but my vote would be for McShane.
His size dictates a different style of play to the aforementioned players, with the Castleford man taking far more of a playmaking role to his driving rivals, but he has taken his role to a whole new level this season.
As well as making a ridiculous 1129 tackles so far, he has had to take on much of the creative work in the absence of Luke Gale and Ben Roberts, actually stepping into the halves a number of times, and he has recorded the highest number of try assists in the league with 27.
If Castleford can achieve Grand Final glory this time around it will be down to him more than anyone. The irony is that with the competition around him he may not even make the Dream Team, but he would be my choice for Man of Steel.
Prop: Luke Thompson (St Helens)
The other front-rower is a shoe-in, with Thompson often the driving force in the Saints pack that allows the talented players around him to do what they do best.
No forward has made more ground over the course of the season than his 3633m, with a formidable gain of 8.26m. With Alex Walmsley missing almost all of the season Thompon has had to step up, and he has certainly done that.
He was strangely omitted from the line-up in the mid-season Test match but it would be even more baffling if he doesn’t pull an England shirt this autumn, and at 23 he should have many more years ahead of him to excel in white and in the red Vee.
Second-row: Matty Ashurst (Wakefield Trinity)
Few players can match the work-rate and consistency of Matty Ashurst in the last couple of years, and he has been a formidable forward this campaign for Chris Chester’s side.
His defensive work for a second rower is remarkable, with only Paul McShane making more than his 1024 tackles over the course of the season, and the next best player in his position making almost 200 less.
He may not make as many metres as others, but his overall work-rate can be matched by very few in Super League.
Second-row: John Bateman (Wigan Warriors)
Bateman heads to Canberra next season on the back of another terrific campaign for the Warriors, for whom he has increasingly become the standout player.
His dynamic attacking style make him a threat from the second row or at centre, and the stats back that up – his 114 tackle busts are the fourth-highest total in the league and the best for a forward, his 3023m can be matched by no second rower, and his 62 offloads are a Super League best.
All that makes him a perfect fit for the NRL, where I’m sure he will be a huge success.
Loose-forward: Ryan Hinchcliffe (Huddersfield Giants)
Last in the Dream Team is another player heading to Australia next season, as Hinchcliffe heads back home for retirement after three great years for the Giants.
They will have to replace a player who has made 983 tackles and should pass the 1000 mark for the second season running in his final ever game this weekend.
It’s a surprise to see him hang up the boots early when there looks to be plenty of life left in him, and it will certainly be to Huddersfield’s detriment after a spell which has rightly made him a huge fan’s favourite.
/ 3 weeks ago
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