Barba, Roby and Bateman up for 2018 Man of Steel award

James Gordon

St Helens pair Ben Barba and James Roby, plus Wigan’s John Bateman, are the three shortlisted players for the 2018 Steve Prescott Man of Steel award.

Barba, 29, has been a stand-out player in Super League this season, scoring 26 tries in 21 appearances to help Saints to a League Leaders’ Shield.

Though his form dipped after suffering an injury midway through the campaign, Barba has recently returned to something like his best form as he tries to inspire Justin Holbrook’s side to a Grand Final triumph before he leaves for North Queensland Cowboys at the end of the season.

Roby, 32, ended last season in scintillating form and has continued that in this campaign as Saints have strolled to top spot in the table.

Fellow England international Bateman, 24, completes the shortlist and will be looking to finish on a high with the Warriors before he also departs for the NRL, joining Canberra on a three-year deal.

If Roby wins the award, he would become only the fourth player – after Ellery Hanley, Paul Sculthorpe and Andy Farrell – to win it multiple times.

Barba is the overwhelming favourite to scoop the award with Super League sponsors Betfred, priced at 1/3.

They have Roby as 7/2 second favourite, with Bateman a long shot at 6/1.

St Helens are also represented in the nominations for Young Player of the Year, in the shape of prop Matty Lees.

He will go up against Castleford half-back Jacob Trueman and Leeds full-back Jack Walker for that award.

Last season’s main award was won by Luke Gale, while Wigan’s Oliver Gildart won the young player award.

A St Helens player hasn’t won Man of Steel since 2008, when James Graham became the fourth Saints player in a row to win the award – following Jamie Lyon in 2005, Paul Wellens in 2006 and Roby in 2007.

Wigan’s last winner was Sam Tomkins in 2012, and in total they’ve had a record 11 winners.