League Express reveals Player of the Year candidates

Sam Tomkins will be aiming to become the first player to win the League Express Readers’ Poll Player of the Year award with two different clubs this week, with League Express revealing the shortlist when it goes online this evening and appears in the shops tomorrow.

Tomkins, a winner in 2011 with Wigan Warriors, is one of the five candidates in the public vote for the 2021 Super League Player of the Year.

He could also become the fourth player to win the award on more than one occasion since its introduction in 1999, following in the footsteps of Sean Long, Paul Sculthorpe and Kevin Sinfield.

Tomkins is up against Hull KR’s Jordan Abdull, Castleford Tigers’ Oliver Holmes, St Helens’ Morgan Knowles and Leeds Rhinos’ Kruise Leeming for this year’s gong.

Holmes could make it two years running that the award has gone to a Tigers player, following Paul McShane’s victory in the poll in 2020, while Leeming will want to see a hooker rewarded for a second season running.

Knowles would be the first St Helens player to claim the prize since 2008, while Abdull could become the first ever winner from Hull KR.

Whichever of the quintet takes your votes would join a stellar cast of past winners that reads as a who’s who of Super League greats.

Player of the Year
1999 Sean Long (St Helens)
2000 Sean Long (St Helens)
2001 Paul Sculthorpe (St Helens)
2002 Paul Sculthorpe (St Helens)
2003 Brian Carney (Wigan Warriors)
2004 Andy Farrell (Wigan Warriors)
2005 Jamie Lyon (St Helens)
2006 Paul Wellens (St Helens)
2007 Trent Barrett (Wigan Warriors)
2008 James Graham (St Helens)
2009 Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos)
2010 Pat Richards (Wigan Warriors)
2011 Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors)
2012 Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos)
2013 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants)
2014 Daryl Clark (Castleford Tigers)
2015 Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos)
2016 Danny Houghton (Hull FC)
2017 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers)
2018 John Bateman (Wigan Warriors)
2019 Jackson Hastings (Salford Red Devils)
2020 Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers)

League Express’ Young Player of the Year award has been won by some great names over the year as well, with five prospects in the frame to become the latest winner.

Danny Orr, now on the coaching staff at Salford Red Devils but then of Castleford, was the first winner in 1999. And he was followed by a litany of names who later would go on to greater things which culminated with another Castleford player, Jacques O’Neill, winning the vote in 2020.

Hull KR’s Mikey Lewis, Leeds Rhinos’ Harry Newman, Wigan Warriors’ Kai Pearce-Paul, Huddersfield Giants’ Will Pryce and St Helens’ Jack Welsby are competing to be Jacques O’Neill’s successor and join this list.

Young Player of the Year
1999 Danny Orr (Castleford)
2000 Richard Horne (Hull FC)
2001 Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos)
2002 Richard Horne (Hull FC)
2003 Danny McGuire (Leeds Rhinos)
2004 Danny McGuire (Leeds Rhinos)
2005 Danny Brough (Hull FC)
2006 James Roby (St Helens)
2007 Sam Burgess (Bradford Bulls)
2008 Joe Westerman (Castleford Tigers)
2009 Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors)
2010 Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors)
2011 Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos)
2012 John Bateman (Bradford Bulls)
2013 Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos)
2014 Daryl Clark (Castleford Tigers)
2015 George Williams (Wigan Warriors)
2016 Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity)
2017 Regan Grace (St Helens)
2018 Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers)
2019 Morgan Smithies (Wigan Warriors)
2020 Jacques O’Neill (Castleford Tigers)

At the other end of the age scale, there has been one veteran above all others in recent seasons, with James Roby winning the Mature Player of the Year award the past three years.

The St Helens captain is currently level with Jamie Peacock for most wins in this category, and is in contention to take the record outright if he can secure a fourth straight prize.

However, he will have to beat Warrington Wolves’ Mike Cooper, Hull FC’s Danny Houghton, Catalans Dragons’ James Maloney and Huddersfield Giants’ Jermaine McGillvary in order to make history.

Mature Player of the Year
1999 Dean Sampson (Castleford Tigers)
2000 Allan Langer (Warrington Wolves)
2001 David Fairleigh (St Helens)
2002 James Lowes (Bradford Bulls)
2003 James Lowes (Bradford Bulls)
2004 Marcus Bai (Leeds Rhinos)
2005 Nathan Wood (Warrington Wolves)
2006 Paul Anderson (St Helens)
2007 Brad Drew (Huddersfield Giants)
2008 Jamie Peacock (Leeds Rhinos)
2009 Adrian Morley (Warrington Wolves)
2010 Keiron Cunningham (St Helens)
2011 Steve Menzies (Catalans Dragons)
2012 Brett Hodgson (Warrington Wolves)
2013 Jamie Peacock (Leeds Rhinos)
2014 Jamie Peacock (Leeds Rhinos)
2015 Danny McGuire (Leeds Rhinos)
2016 Gareth Ellis (Hull FC)
2017 Danny McGuire (Leeds Rhinos)
2018 James Roby (St Helens)
2019 James Roby (St Helens)
2020 James Roby (St Helens)

Like Tomkins in the player category, Tony Smith will be aiming to become the first man to win the Coach of the Year award with two different clubs.

The Hull KR coach could follow up his previous win 17 years ago when in charge of Leeds Rhinos.

Both Smith and Steve McNamara, who also won with Catalans Dragons in 2018, will be looking to move level with the record number of wins alongside fellow two-time prize winners Brian Noble, Daniel Anderson, Brian McDermott, Daryl Powell and Ian Watson.

But they will have to hold off the challenge of Leeds’ Richard Agar, Wakefield Trinity’s Willie Poching and St Helens’ Kristian Woolf to succeed Watson on the list.

Coach of the Year
1999 Ellery Hanley (St Helens)
2000 Ian Millward (St Helens)
2001 Brian Noble (Bradford Bulls)
2002 Neil Kelly (Widnes Vikings)
2003 Brian Noble (Bradford Bulls)
2004 Tony Smith (Leeds Rhinos)
2005 John Kear (Hull FC)
2006 Daniel Anderson (St Helens)
2007 Daniel Anderson (St Helens)
2008 Mick Potter (Catalans Dragons)
2009 Nathan Brown (Huddersfield Giants)
2010 Michael Maguire (Wigan Warriors)
2011 Brian McDermott (Leeds Rhinos)
2012 Mick Potter (Bradford Bulls)
2013 Shaun Wane (Wigan Warriors)
2014 Daryl Powell (Castleford Tigers)
2015 Brian McDermott (Leeds Rhinos)
2016 Lee Radford (Hull FC)
2017 Daryl Powell (Castleford Tigers)
2018 Steve McNamara (Catalans Dragons)
2019 Ian Watson (Salford Red Devils)
2020 Ian Watson (Salford Red Devils)

St Helens could further extend their record in the Club of the Year category if they win the award for the fifth time in 2021.

They already hold the outright record having previously triumphed in 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2020, and could also become the first club to win two years in a row.

Catalans Dragons (2008), Barrow Raiders (2009) and Featherstone Rovers (2011) will be aiming to win the award for the second time, while Toulouse Olympique are in contention to claim their first win and become the 15th different club to take the prize.

Club of the Year
1999 Castleford Tigers
2000 St Helens
2001 Bradford Bulls
2002 St Helens
2003 Bradford Bulls
2004 Leeds Rhinos
2005 Warrington Wolves
2006 St Helens
2007 Leeds Rhinos
2008 Catalans Dragons
2009 Barrow Raiders
2010 Wigan Warriors
2011 Featherstone Rovers
2012 Leeds Rhinos
2013 Wigan Warriors
2014 Leigh Centurions
2015 Keighley Cougars
2016 Hull FC
2017 Castleford Tigers
2018 York City Knights
2019 Salford Red Devils
2020 St Helens

To see all the other voting categories, make sure you get hold of a copy of tomorrow’s edition of League Express. You can subscribe to the digital or paper edition of the newspaper by going to https://www.totalrl.com/league-express/