It may only be mid June, but here’s a look at my top five contenders for the 2015 Steve Prescott Man of Steel award.
Catalan’s Zeb Taia has been mooted as a contender for the prestigious award, won last year by hooker Daryl Clark.
The Cook Islander’s team mate Elliott Whitehead has also been a stand out performer in the Dragons back row and has been tipped for the award.
Leeds Rhinos’ Super League XX acquisiton Adam Cuthbertson has also been impressive in his debut season at Headingley, while Terry Campese has been instrumental for Hull KR in the first four months of the season.
James Roby and Alex Walmsley have been superb for table-topping Saints, while Wigan’s Joe Burgess is leading the try scoring charts and is another early contender for the gong.
Perhaps dark horses for the award are Hull FC’s Danny Houghton, Castleford’s Luke Gale and Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford who are all hitting their straps as the season hots up.
Reigning Man of Steel Clark is also in the hunt and bidding to become the first player since Paul Sculthorpe in 2002 to retain the award.
Here’s a closer look at my five-man shortlist for the 2015 Steve Prescott Man of Steel award. (Oh, and they are in no particular order!)
Zeb Taia – Catalan Dragons
An ever-present for the Dragons in Super League this season, Taia has caught the eye this season for the French side.
The 30 year-old has made over 2000 metres this campaign but added try scoring to his game to help boost his side’s top 8 hopes. With 11 touch downs so far, Taia is Super League’s top try scoring forward and has equalled his previous best try scoring season, which came two years ago.
Taia also makes the top 10 for tackle busts and carries and only Adam Cuthbertson has produced more offloads than the second rower this season.
With stats like these it’s not hard to see why Taia is hotly tipped for the award this season.
Danny Houghton – Hull FC
The Black and Whites’ number 9 is the definition of consistency and has been pivotal for his side this campaign.
He has played all 17 of Hull’s games this season and has been particularly impressive over the last few weeks.
Since 2010 the 26 year-old has finished in the top five tacklers in the division and currently tops the charts with 737 so far, 87 more than second place Stevie Ward.
His 11 try assists this season is the joint highest for a hooker in Super League, and he certainly deserves to be considered for the award.
Alex Walmsley – St Helens
The last time a prop forward was named Man of Steel was seven years ago, when James Graham picked up the award for his impressive displays in the Red Vee.
That year Graham made 3774 metres – just under 200 more than anyone else. Currently, Walmsley has made the most ground this year, 160 metres more than his nearest rival.
The 25 year-old has not missed any of Saints’ 18 Super League games this season, and his strong running has set the platform for the attacking players rack up the points.
He also tops the chart for most carries and Walmsley’s 71 tackle busts puts him third in that ranking.
If he can maintain this sort of form the former Championship Young Player of the Year will be in with a great shot at Super League’s top award.
Adam Cuthbertson – Leeds Rhinos
Leeds Rhinos’ only close season signing Adam Cuthbertson has been enjoying his debut Super League season with the Yorkshire club.
The prop qualifies for England and based on his form in 2015 there is a real desire to see him line up against the Kiwis in Steve McNamara’s team in Autumn.
His offloading game has been a highlight so far, in 18 games the former Newcastle Knight has offloaded a whopping 81 times – 34 times more than second placed Zeb Taia.
Despite the 30 year-old’s high risk style, he has only made 16 errors so far this campaign.
He has made over 2000 metres for the Challenge Cup holders too, and is forming a very good front row partnership with Jamie Peacock.
Cuthbertson has added a new dimension to the Rhinos attack this season and his six tries have helped contribute to Leeds being towards the top of the table.
Danny Brough – Huddersfield Giants
Danny Brough is undoubtedly the ‘go to’ man for the Giants, and more often than not the stand-off delivers.
2015 has been no different, the 32 year-old leads the way for try assists in Super League XX with 21 – which is almost one-third of the Huddersfield’s total tries this season.
Captain Brough has contributed a total of 124 points himself for the Giants this season and reached 400 career appearances in the victory over Warrington.
The 2013 Man of Steel leads his side round the pitch and after 18 rounds the Giants currently sit in the top four.
Brough’s kicking game has been key for Huddersfield so far, he leads the way for 40/20’s and has made more kicks in general play than any other player up to now this season.
Surely Brough has a great chance of winning the award for the second time if he can lead the Giants to a top four finish.