In a brand new feature for TotalRL, we’ll be picking out five players following every round of the season who will have caught the eye of Wayne Bennett (or his coaching staff!) ahead of this year’s World Cup.
With England seemingly blessed with more depth than ever before, Bennett will have plenty of tough calls to make come the autumn when it comes to finalising his World Cup squad. Here’s who caught our eye this particular weekend.
Paul McShane (Castleford)
There’s surely little doubt as things stand that Paul McShane is Super League’s standout hooker. If there were a team of the season being produced tomorrow, the Castleford hooker would surely slot into the team perfectly. He may not have picked up much praise given the headline-grabbing exploits of Zak Hardaker, Luke Gale et al on Friday night against Hull, but McShane, as he so often has been this year, was incredible.
Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield)
Leroy Cudjoe’s stock had fallen a tad earlier this year, eventually losing his place in the England Elite Performance Squad. However, any watching England coach – including someone who knows him well in Paul Anderson – will have liked what they saw in attack over the weekend. He took a well-worked individual try before setting up a brilliant one for winger Darnell McIntosh.
Joe Burgess (Wigan)
England are not exactly short of world-class wingers, that much is a given. But while there is still plenty of time to go this season, there’s every chance Joe Burgess can force his way into contention for the World Cup. Burgess has settled back into life as a Super League player seamlessly in a tough campaign for Wigan thus far – he has been one of their best, and he was so again on Sunday against Widnes.
Marc Sneyd (Hull FC)
It may have been a defeat for Hull FC on Friday night – but when they set up a dramatic finale, the form of Marc Sneyd was instrumental. In a battle between himself and fellow scrum-half Luke Gale, Sneyd looked in good nick for the Black and Whites – in a season where he has battled injury, coming good at the right time may yet give him a chance.
Stevie Ward (Leeds)
Four tries in five games is a decent return for anyone: let alone a second-row forward. That’s the kind of form Stevie Ward finds himself in at the moment – and he’s surely giving Bennett a friendly nudge to remind him of his talents. Ward will look to continue his impressive form at Salford this Sunday.