First published in League Express, Monday 12th Aug 2013
Congratulations to Danny Brough, who looks to have the Albert Goldthorpe Medal, presented by League Express, sewn up after picking up another point in the Giants’ win at Wigan on Friday night.
He’s the main reason why his Huddersfield side now has one hand on the League Leaders’ Shield. Brough is a fantastic player and has had a great year.
I like this particular award because it rewards consistency, and Danny hasn’t had a single slump in form this year, not even a very short one.
He’s a halfback who has the ability to stand out in one of the unfancied sides, as he proved at Wakefield and when he first went to the Giants.
He seems to have something in his game that no one else in Super League has – that indefinable x-factor that separates the great players from the good.
The Sky commentators were a little critical of him on Friday, but I thought he did all he had to do – with no little help from a few others – to get his side a great win.
But even if he adds the Man of Steel (which surely he will) to the Goldthorpe Medal, and leads the Giants to Grand Final glory, I feel that his year will be best remembered for his inexplicable exclusion from England’s plans.
It’s an issue that everybody is discussing. The more top-drawer performances he produces and the better Huddersfield do, the more it sticks out like a sore thumb.
The embarrassment and awkwardness for the England coach Steve McNamara must be growing by the week, because if Danny can lead Huddersfield to the top of the league, then he could have helped England win the World Cup.
Twelve months ago, both scenarios would have seemed equally unlikely.
If England get beaten only by a quality kicking game by Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston, then it will all come down to Steve’s stubbornness as far as Brough is concerned.
If he would explain why he clearly doesn’t rate him then it might bring some clarity, but otherwise it’s an issue that’s just not going to go away.
Anyway, it leads me nicely on to looking at the scrum-halves that I would look at selecting and with Brough out of the picture, I have just two.
As much as I like the two I’ve picked, I think it does highlight the main reason why we can’t win the World Cup.
Andy Gregory and I would have loved to play behind our current pack of forwards. But I don’t feel that the players who will wear the halfback jerseys will be good enough.
MATTY SMITH – He’s been excellent for most of the season, and his organisation and kicking are excellent. He’d take the pressure of Kevin Sinfield in these regards if selected. He likes to boss the game but, however well he has played this year, he’s not in the same league as Cooper Cronk, although Cronk is so good tha it’s not necessarily a major criticism. Matty has a lot of good in his game, and if he’s given a chance he could have a great tournament.
RICHIE MYLER – Richie doesn’t boss a game or organise, but he is an excellent support player. As a Test scrum-half you need a bit more than that and he’s come up short in the past, although his all-round game is improving. His kicking is decent but not quite international class, although he wouldn’t be the main kicker. But support play is very important, and with such a good pack of forwards, I think there’d be plenty of reward for a player like Richie were he to get some game time.
On Saturday I was at Lock Lane as part of the club’s 75th anniversary. Plenty of supporters turned up and it was a great day.
My All Stars side won by four tries to two, meaning we’re still unbeaten, although I picked up another injury – this time trying to score an intercept!
Recently I’ve been at Eastmoor and also Millom to celebrate their impressively long histories and I have so much admiration for these clubs.
The RFL has tried to move a lot of focus away from these traditional amateur clubs in the last few years and I think that’s a big shame, because these clubs and many more are the lifeblood of the sport.
If any other amateur club wants the All Stars to come along, then please get in touch.