The concept of an unsung hero is well noted in sport, with every club in almost every walk of life feeling they have a player or two who never gets the credit they deserve. And in Rugby League, we are certainly no different to the rest.
It might be a forward who does the “dirty” work which never gets noticed by the media, or it might be a back who, despite having a phenomenal record, can never quite grab the headlines his performances deserve.
Well, to celebrate those unsung heroes, TotalRL.com has put together a special XIII of players who may not get the amount of credit they necessarily deserve. We’ve trawled through the stats for this year, and come up with a very special group of men – Super League’s unsung heroes for 2014!
Full-Back: Matthew Russell (Warrington Wolves)
With Zak Hardaker and Morgan Escare vying for the full-back slot in the Super League Dream Team, the performances of Warrington’s Matthew Russell in 2014 have somewhat dipped under the radar. However, the stats don’t lie; he’s the top metre maker in the entire division, running well over 3500 metres in 2014.
Wing: Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants)
McGillvary has again enjoyed a successful season on the wing for Huddersfield in 2014, scoring another 20 tries this season. As well as that, he’s in the top 20 metre makers in Super League, and ranks highly in a lot of the key stats required to be a top Super League winger.
Centre: Michael Oldfield (Catalan Dragons)
Catalan’s outside backs have had a remarkable year, and Michael Oldfield has certainly played a key role in that. Oldfield – like McGillvary – has 20 Super League tries to his name, as well as only 11 missed tackles throughout the entirety of the season.
Centre: Rhys Evans (Warrington Wolves)
Whether it has been on the wing or in the centres, Rhys Evans has again shown he has all the talent required to be a top back for the Wolves for many years to come. He’s a back that does a lot of the under appreciated work for the Wolves, and has become a key member of their side in 2014.
Wing: Fetuli Talanoa (Hull FC)
Although it has been far from a good season for Hull FC as a team, Talanoa has had a relatively good first year in England with the Black and Whites. Ten tries is a decent enough return from Talanoa, but nearly 2500 metres this year is impressive going.
Stand-Off: Rangi Chase (Salford Red Devils)
With the likes of Marc Sneyd and Kevin Brown claiming all the headlines this year, Chase has quietly slipped under the radar, but his stats are once again very impressive. Only three players have assisted more tries than the Salford man, with Chase even claiming seven tries himself. Only Danny Brough has made more attacking kicks than him all year, too.
Scrum-Half: Josh Drinkwater (London Broncos)
Drinkwater has been one of London’s best players in 2014, leading the team forward in impressive fashion. 16 try assists is more than the likes of Lance Hohaia and Danny McGuire, and he made almost 400 tackles this year, which is a healthy amount for a half-back.
Prop: Adrian Morley (Salford Red Devils)
Salford fans will be delighted that Morley is going around again in 2015, because he doesn’t show any signs of easing up judging by his 2014 stats. The Salford man made more metres than anyone else at the club, with only Tommy Lee making more tackles than the prop.
Hooker: Danny Houghton (Hull FC)
Houghton remains Hull FC’s most reliable man in defence in 2014 – in fact, only James Roby has made more tackles than Houghton across the entirety of Super League. 9 tries and 11 try assists also make for pleasant reading – is there a bigger unsung hero in Super League than Houghton?
Prop: Mose Masoe (St Helens)
After making such a thunderous impression at the World Cup last year, Masoe has made the transition to Super League very well. He’s made nearly 2000 metres this year, as well as over 50 tackle busts!
Second-Row: Zeb Taia (Catalan Dragons)
Taia’s second-row partner Elliott Whitehead made the Dream Team in 2014 – but the accolade could have quite easily gone to him. He is the top metre maker at the Dragons, and has made an astonishing 648 tackles – which is a lot for a man who spends most of his time away from the middle of the field.
Second-Row: Brett Ferres (Huddersfield Giants)
It’s been another great year for Ferres, who failed to make it into the Super League Dream Team – but is a good bet for England honours later this year. Despite only playing 21 games in the league he’s made a healthy amount of metres, as well as 13 try assists and eight scores himself.
Loose Forward: James Donaldson (Bradford Bulls)
Donaldson is moving on to pastures new at Hull KR next year, but it’s been another strong campaign from the Cumbrian, who topped Bradford’s tackle count by well over 100 – his 833 tackles placing him eighth on the overall list in Super League.