In this week’s edition of League Express, our weekly poll exclusively revealed the candidates which comprise the shortlist for the Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year Medal. Previously won by stars such as Sam Tomkins and John Bateman, the medal rewards the best “rookie” to have appeared in Super League across a season.
To qualify, players must have played fewer than 10 Super League games prior to the beginning of the season – and after careful deliberation, we’ve chosen the five men think make up the 2014 shortlist. We’re encouraging as many people to vote on this as possible, and you can do so by using our poll below. However, to give you a background to each character, we’ve profiled them here – will it make your mind up on who deserves the award?
Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors)
Burgess wasn’t even expected to feature for Wigan at the beginning of this year, but such has been his impact on the team, he finished the year as a Grand Finalist, and as part of England’s touring squad for the Four Nations tournament. Burgess has established a reputation as one of the most prolific wingers in the game, and he has scored some extraordinary tries for the Warriors on occasions this season. But will he get your vote for Rookie of the Year?
Joe Keyes (London Broncos)
Despite finishing bottom of Super League in 2014, London Broncos produced not one, but two candidates for our Rookie of the Year shortlist – the first being young half-back Joe Keyes. Although he has only played a handful of games, Keyes has made a real impact on the Broncos and Super League, scoring a hat-trick in their only victory of the season, when they defeated the Leeds Rhinos. He has since been called up to the England Academy squad for the series against Australian High Schools.
Matthew Russell (Warrington Wolves)
Few would class Russell as a “rookie” – but by the rules of eligibility, Russell is a contender for this shortlist. After moving to Australia and playing for Gold Coast Titans – then playing for Scotland in the World Cup – Russell has made a real impact on Warrington this season, stepping into Brett Hodgson’s shoes in some style. He finished as the top metre maker in the entire Super League, and looks to have a very bright future and both club and country level.
Luke Thompson (St Helens)
Our final contender comes from the champions, St Helens. After making seven Super League appearances in 2013 for the Saints, Luke Thompson has really kicked on this year, going on to appear 14 times for the Saints in 2014 – including playing a huge part in their Grand Final success last weekend. Thompson is a barnstorming forward who looks to have a very bright future in the game indeed – but will he get your vote as the Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year?
Mason Caton-Brown (London Broncos/Salford Red Devils)
Such was the form of Mason Caton-Brown in the early part of 2014, he was plucked from the capital by ambitious Salford Red Devils, who snapped up the promising centre on a permanent deal. And, since leaving London, Caton-Brown has continued to impress, gaining a reputation as one of the most promising young backs in the country. With Salford’s ambitious plans getting even bigger next year, is Caton-Brown a certified star of the future?