Thursday XIII: Super League surprise packages
As the business end of the season approaches in Super League, attention will turn to a whole host of individual and team honours that are annually up for grabs. But here at TotalRL.com, we don’t like to be left out, so for this week’s Thursday 13, we’re creating a team of our own!
Over the last 15 years we’ve seen a raft of players become part of the furniture in Super League, with the likes of Jamie Peacock, Sean O’Loughlin and Kevin Sinfield consistent performers for a number of years. However, each and every year there are a number of players who come from seemingly nowhere and emerge as top quality Super League players – and they’re the focus of our feature this week.
We’ve been asking you on social media (if you didn’t see this week’s poll, remember to get involved next week) for your nominations for Super League surprise packages in 2014 – and it’s safe to say we had plenty of nominations. Whether it’s young players who have burst through the ranks, or simply older heads that have rolled back the years to shock everyone, there have been plenty of surprises in Super League this year. And here are the 13 men who you all chose to make the cut for this week’s Thursday 13!
Niall Evalds (Salford Red Devils) – Although the arrival of Kevin Locke has squeezed him out of the team of late, Salford’s Niall Evalds had been a real revelation at full-back in 2014. Five tries in nine appearances tells only half the story; he averages over 10 metres with every carry of the ball this season in what has been a real breakout year for the youngster.
Gene Ormsby (Warrington Wolves) – Since being pouched from the Championship last season, Ormsby has made a real impact on his first season in Super League. He’s made 18 appearances and has scored 12 tries – becoming one of the regulars of the Warrington side.
Mason Caton-Brown (Salford Red Devils) – Perhaps the real breakout star of 2014, Caton-Brown has excelled for both London Broncos and Salford Red Devils this year, making a host of headlines along the way with some incredible performances.
Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers) – Not exactly a breakout star, although Michael Shenton is producing perhaps the best form of his career in 2014, captaining Castleford Tigers to Wembley along the way. Can he lift the Challenge Cup next week?
Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors) – Joe Burgess has lit up the DW Stadium on plenty of occasions this year, with the winger looking anything like a youngster in his debut season with the Wigan club.
Kevin Brown (Widnes Vikings) – Brown, like Michael Shenton, is producing the form of his career in 2014. Although he couldn’t steer Widnes to a Challenge Cup final appearance, they are in pole position to make the top eight – which would be a superb effort from the Vikings.
Liam Finn (Castleford Tigers) – Finn had been the best half in the Championship for a number of years, but he has made the step up to Super League look ludicrously easy. He has proven to be a real lynchpin in Cas’ artillery this year, pulling the strings from half-back.
Craig Huby (Castleford Tigers) – Huby has caught the eye all season with his superb form for Castleford – with some even suggesting an England call could be on the horizon at the season’s end for the rampaging prop.
George Williams (Wigan Warriors) – With Michael McIlorum injured for a lengthy period this year, George Williams has impressed whenever he has stepped out on to the field for Wigan. A real star of the future – and now the present – for Wigan.
Brad Singleton (Leeds Rhinos) – Singleton may not have been the most eye-catching star of 2014, but he has proven himself to be a real asset for Leeds as they chase honours on all fronts. His 19 appearances have made him a crucial part of their pack in 2014, with the prop establishing himself as a regular for the Rhinos.
John Bateman (Wigan Warriors) – Bateman has gone from talented youngster at Bradford to potential international star with Wigan Warriors after a superb 2014. He has excelled in the Warriors’ pack this year, and could be set for a spot in the Four Nations squad later this year.
Elliott Whitehead (Catalan Dragons) – Like Bateman, Whitehead is another former Bradford youngster who has made massive strides forward in 2014. He has a real try-scoring knack about him, and is also set for an England call later this year.
Frankie Mariano (Castleford Tigers) – Tough to pick a loose forward, but Cas’ Frankie Mariano has been a real consistent performer for them this year after joining from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. Has only missed one Super League game this year, playing 22 times.