With Easter out of the way, I thought I’d look at something a little different in my TotalRL column this week. This is traditionally the time of year where we accept the table is beginning to take shape: so why not peruse through the pack of contenders and pick out five early front-runners for the Man of Steel award? There’s a long way to go yet, but here’s who’s caught my eye thus far..
Junior Moors (Castleford) – current odds: 50/1
Moors is a fairly lengthy shot at 50/1 to pick up a first Man of Steel award: and on current form, those odds look very tasty indeed. Moors’ form at the back end of last season was impressive enough but this year, he has appeared to take his game to an even higher level. The 30-year-old continues to get better and better – and if that continues all season, don’t back against him being in the mix for the gong come the end of the season.
Morgan Escare (Wigan) – current odds: 33/1
Signing of the season? Without question. With Sam Tomkins injured long-term at the end of last season, it’s fair to say Shaun Wane took somewhat of a punt on Morgan Escare – whose career had gone off the boil in the south of France somewhat. Escare has certainly repaid that faith; he’s been one of Wigan’s very best players all season long: and looks to be coming of age in a cherry and white shirt.
Matt Parcell (Leeds) – current odds: 25/1
Hooker Matt Parcell can’t be far behind Escare in the signing of the season stakes. There was no avoiding the fact Leeds were crying out for a hooker in light of James Segeyaro’s departure from Headingley, and the capture of Parcell from Manly has proven to be an inspired piece of business. Parcell is currently Super League’s top tackler, and with ball in hand, he’s helped Leeds become a much better outfit. He’s a fantastic player.
Gareth O’Brien (Salford) – current odds: 33/1
Who would have had a Salford player in their list of early front-runners for Man of Steel come mid-April? Not many: although if there was ever going to be one, it was likely to be their Million Pound Game hero. Gareth O’Brien’s form all season has been magnificent, and he looks to be flourishing in a pivotal position for Salford. Long tipped as a star with a bright future, O’Brien is fulfilling that potential in a Red Devils shirt.
George Williams (Wigan) – current odds: 7/1
The one man with much shorter odds than the rest on this list: and it’s not hard to see why. If Wigan lift any further silverware this season, then there’s no doubting how key a role George Williams will have played. Tying him down to a long-term deal may well prove to be the Warriors’ best piece of business in years: but in the more immediate term, he has the ability to ensure Wigan remain firm title contenders once again in 2017. If he doesn’t win the Man of Steel this year, he surely will at some point in the future.
Disclaimer! I could only pick five.. but there’s little doubting there’s many more in contention than that. You could have easily picked a list full of Cas players – with Zak Hardaker, Michael Shenton and Luke Gale all in great form. Hull’s Albert Kelly also deserving of a mention too..!