Denny Solomona – the real deal?

Just over a week ago I treated myself to a trip across the Pennines to go and watch St Helens take on Castleford at Langtree Park.

There were a number of reasons I was looking forward to the trip; it would be my first to Saints’ home since the 2013 World Cup, a first chance to see both teams in the flesh this season and an opportunity to take in a fixture that continuously provides epics for the fans.

However, another factor in my decision to watch the game was the chance to see exactly what all the hype is surrounding Denny Solomona, the maverick, athletic, freak of a winger who has scored some of the most breathtaking tries of the Super League era.

At the age of 22, Solomona has provided Castleford fans with an incredible amount of promise in regards to his potential. His 18 try haul in the 2015 season was a solid maiden year at Cas, although it was widely acknowledged that improvements could be made in his game.

But during the opening weeks of the season, Solomona has already proved that he has reached new heights. Heading into the game with Saints he had six tries in three games, and following his hat-trick in defeat to Salford on Sunday he now has nine for the season, making him the second top try scorer in Super League behind Widnes’ Corey Thompson.

As the game panned out, Solomona had a quiet match by his standards; an early break down the left wasn’t capitalised on while most of Saints’ tries were scored on the opposite wing.

But then in the 75th minute we were treated to the audacious, the miraculous and the gravity-defying brilliance of the Kiwi. With Cas chasing the game, Solomona produced a one-on-one strip, pounced on the ball, raced to the corner and leapt acrobatically for the corner to score. There was an audible gasp from the crowd, not only because of the late drama, but at the astonishment of what they had seen.

Sadly for Cas, the try was disallowed as the strip was deemed to have gone forward, it was a decision Daryl Powell questioned post-match.

But in that one play, Solomona proved why he is the biggest box-office star in the competition as it stands. There are some fantastic wingers in Super League, but Solomona is that little bit different.

What impressed me the most, however, was his superb work rate. He came down the middle to take early drives and tackled soundly when required. They are the sort of attributes that get Ryan Hall and Jermaine McGillvary so much praise.

Yes, Solomona can make improvements, but his name could end up in lights in the not too distant future.

The new edition of Rugby League World, featuring football star Joey Barton on the cover, includes a special interview with Solomona, written by Castleford teammate Michael Shenton in a new monthly feature exclusive to the magazine. Issue 420 is available in stores from Friday or can be purchased online here.