Talking Rugby League: Credit to the ever-presents in Super League so far this season

Here’s a question for the Rugby League anoraks among our readers.

What do the following four Super League players have in common: Joe Westerman (Castleford), Ash Handley (Leeds), Ken Sio (Salford) and Brodie Croft (Salford)?

The answer is that they are the only four Super League players who have started in each of their clubs’ 22 Super League games so far this season.

In a season when we have heard so much about injuries causing players to be unavailable, it is surely refreshing to focus on those players who haven’t been injured and have been able to turn out for every game for their club, whichever one it may be.

Perhaps it’s remarkable that there are only four players that fall into that category, although of course there are also players in the Championship who have achieved the same feat.

And there are some Super League players who have appeared in all their team’s games while starting some of them on the bench.

For example, Salford’s Deon Cross, who has been an outstanding signing from Championship club Widnes, has started 21 games for the Red Devils, while appearing once on the bench. The same applies to Wakefield’s Matty Ashurst, who has been such a reliable player for Trinity since joining them in 2015.

Mikolaj Oledzki of Leeds has also played in every Super League game for the Rhinos, but in his case that includes 20 starts and two appearances on the bench.

There are three other Super League players who have also appeared in each of their team’s game.

Rob Mulhern of Warrington has started seven games and been on the bench 15 times; Jack Brown of Hull FC has started six times and been on the bench 16 times; and Joey Lussick has been on the St Helens bench 17 times, while only starting five times. In his case it’s easy to see why he rarely starts, when the man in possession of the hooking role in James Roby.

I’m tempted to say that all these players, when players all around them are going down like ninepins, deserve some sort of a medal.

I certainly believe there should be some sort of special award at the Man of Steel night for players who have played in every game of the season.

Meanwhile, there is one player in the Championship who has also played in every one of his side’s 22 games, but has started all 22 games on the bench.

That is Sheffield Eagles’ Blake Broadbent.

Will he get one starting spot before the end of the season.

I’ll watch with interest.

Greeks bearing gifts

I was delighted to see that the Greek government has at last agreed to fully recognise Rugby League in that country, after many years of frustration for the Greek Rugby League.

I’m glad to see that recognition has been given before the Greek team takes part in its first Rugby League World Cup campaign.

Greece will play England at Sheffield’s Bramall Lane later this year and they will no doubt have a team made up of heritage players, largely from Australia.

They are one of the World Cup sides whose fortunes are quite hard to predict when the tournament begins.

Rugby League’s chief scout

I was very sad to learn of the death recently of Eric Hawley, who was a legendary Rugby League scout for several of our biggest clubs, including Bradford when they were at the height of their powers, Leeds and Wigan.

Eric was the man who signed Jason Robinson for Wigan, but perhaps his greatest day, in hindsight was when he signed two young lads called Ellery Hanley and Henderson Gill on the same day for the then Bradford Northern.

Of course both players eventually played for Wigan and both enjoyed Wembley glory in famous Challenge Cup Finals.

Eric was probably the greatest talent spotter Rugby League in this country has ever seen.

In talking to his son Gary, to whom I extend my warm condolences for his loss, I learned that there was only one player who Eric didn’t recommend for signing who he would later reproach himself for.

That was Barrie McDermott, who certainly showed why he was in the very top rank of Rugby League forwards.

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.