Garry Schofield: Players & coaches with a point to prove in 2017

In last week’s League Express, Rugby League Hall of Fame inductee Garry Schofield highlighted a number of Super League players he believes have a point to prove. Garry has a regular column in League Express, to read the new column, buy League Express in stores now or online at

Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers)

He’s the captain and having only played in one game last year, he’ll be desperate to get back out onto the field and lead by example. He may also have an eye on a World Cup jersey, because England isn’t over blessed with centres. Castleford need a bit more consistency and a solid pro like Shenny could be the man to help them find that. I like him as a centre. On his day he’s an excellent player, but a year out is a long time. I’ll be interested to see how he goes this season but I’ll back him to recapture his best form.

Laurent Frayssinous (Catalans Dragons)

I decided to go for a coach when looking at the Dragons, because I feel he is the most under pressure. Can he get the best out of his players every week? Last year disintegrated into a shambles, largely because some of the Aussie players took the mickey out of him. It will be interesting to see if he can regain control of the dressing room. If he can’t, then I think he may well be out of a job at some point during the season. I don’t want to see that happen, but the Dragons’ Chairman has high standards and may run out of patience soon.

Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield Giants)

People keep telling me that Leroy is a quality centre, but I’ve never been entirely convinced. He’s now one of Huddersfield’s most experienced players, and they need a few of their older players to take some of the pressure off Danny Brough. Leroy is an excellent wingers’ centre, but he lacks concentration and consistency. I’d like to see him sort those issues out and look to nail down a spot in the England squad for the World Cup.

Scott Taylor (Hull FC)

This is a big season for him, largely because he was so good last year. He added a new dimension to the Hull pack, but he has to ensure that he can still offer something if other teams begin to work him out. He will hopefully look to take things to another level and, with a World Cup coming up, he should be looking to get into the 17 to make up for being overlooked in the Four Nations, which I feel was a mistake. I fancy Hull to have another good year, and Taylor’s good form will be a reason for it.

Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos)

This is a huge season for Liam because he’s at the crossroads of his career. He wants to play stand-off by all accounts, but I’m not convinced that he’s going to be at his best there. I’d prefer him as an old-fashioned loose forward. Either way he hasn’t kicked on and proven himself to be England class, whereas a couple of years ago he looked to have the world at his feet. If Leeds are going to get back into the top four, they’ll need Sutcliffe to be back to his best.

Martyn Ridyard (Leigh Centurions)

I’ve praised him to the rafters recently, but the step up to Super League won’t be easy. If he can crack it, then he may well come into consideration for an England jersey. I believe Leigh will make the top eight and one of the reasons for my prediction is the potential of Ridyard to shine. I’m looking forward to seeing him come up against the likes of George Williams, Danny McGuire and Kurt Gidley and I’m sure he’ll do well.

Robert Lui (Salford Red Devils)

Last year he started like a house on fire and was playing very well. But he needs to do it more often and the Red Devils need to rely less on Michael Dobson. For them to be a comfortable top-eight team, Robert needs to do more. He’s another player with concentration and consistency issues – very good on his day, but we need to see it more often.

Matty Smith (St Helens)

Keiron Cunningham wants Matty to play a creative role at Saints, so hopefully that means the shackles will now be taken off him. He was too stifled for his own good at Wigan. He needs to be the man to get them over the line in the big games and I’ll be interested to see if he’s good enough to do that. I’ve been hard on him for the last couple of years, but I’ve seen enough to know he’s capable of delivering a lot more.

Danny Kirmond (Wakefield Trinity)

Over the last couple of years he’s been a bit injury prone, but from what I’m led to believe he’s fully fit again and has a smile back on his face. He was outstanding on Boxing Day in their big win at Leeds, and I hope he can use that as a launch pad for an excellent season. Trinity need to prove people like me wrong by staying in the top eight and a big season from Danny will go a long way to achieving that.

Joe Westerman (Warrington Wolves)

I’m still not convinced that Joe has fully realised his potential. I really want him to succeed because he’s an out-and-out loose forward, and not just an extra prop, which is the tactic that some of the duller teams use. If he can bring his ‘A’ game every week, then the Wolves will kick on to the next level. He’s got the talent to produce the goods more often, particularly in the big games. If he can achieve that, then a World Cup jersey could be his.

Tom Gilmore (Widnes Vikings)

Replacing Kevin Brown won’t be easy. He’s talking the talk but now he has to walk the walk. We keep hearing that Widnes are getting better, so he needs to produce on a weekly basis. He’s got big boots to fill and it sounds like he has the confidence. I like that in a player and it would be great to see him emerge as a quality stand-off. Hopefully this will be his breakthrough year.

George Williams (Wigan Warriors)

I believe that he can really kick on in 2017 and if he’s allowed to take control further away from the opposition try line, then we’ll him really hit his potential. I hope he’s allowed to be the on-field leader for Wigan, because he would really thrive in the role. If that happens then the Warriors will take some stopping and he should go on to be the England stand-off for years to come.