The latest Q&A with rugby league legend Ellery Hanley, thanks to Adrian Jackson.
The full interview is included in the Final Hooter podcast. Click HERE to listen.
Hanley heads the Man of Steel panel and you can predict who will succeed Jackson Hastings as Man of Steel with a Bethard bonus code 2020 with Huddersfield signing Aiden Sezer among the favourites.
What are your thoughts on the new additions to the Man of Steel panel?
“First of all, let me just a big congratulations to Lois Forsell and Benny Westwood on joining the panel, its our first female on the panel which is fantastic and she’s got a huge amount of knowledge and experience and we’re all looking forward to working with her.
“Ben Westwood as we all know has been tremendous for our game. He’s been an absolutely wonderful, wonderful character and great human being as well, and just extending on in regards to the Man of Steel, I thought it worked magnificent last season. All the contribution from the players and the panelists were fantastic, the reporting for each game with a three-two-one system distributing the points for each game works well and it’s crucial that we changed the format because in terms of having 21, 22 players and going to individual games and they’ve all played the game some of them have been coaches and played the game at the highest level, so their knowledge and their input was actually crucial to selecting Jackson Hastings as the winner of last year’s Man of Steel, and for me the rightful winner. He was outstanding in all departments, attack, defence, offloads, support runner, I just thought he was key to the whole salford side.”
What a statement that is for women’s rugby league having Lois Forsell introduced to the panel?
“Fantastic. When I first got wind of Lois coming on, I just think it’s revolutionary and absolutely wonderful and honestly I really hope that we see other females coming onto the panel. I think their contribution to the game, Lois has played the game, she knows what it’s all about and has been around long enough and seen thousands and thousands of games, so it’s just brilliant the fact that she is on the panel now.”
You are the chairman again, are you still enjoying the role?
“I wouldn’t do anything if I wouldn’t enjoy it. It’s a magnificent honour first of all and having the support of all the rest of the panelists is fantastic and my role being the chairman, its such a distinctive role. Let me tell you, it’s one of the greatest honours you could have.”
As a player, you won Man of Steel three times. How was that?
“If I’m really honest, I still can’t believe to this day that I won it three times and what people tend to forget is this, and what for me is one of the key factors of winning it, is the players I played with were a massive contribution to me winning the Man of Steel and secondly it’s the players I played against as well. They tested me every week in terms of my ability and there’s other factors that contributed to that as well, being fit for the whole season making sure that your forms good as well and making sure your consistent for the whole season that plays a huge role in not being injured.”
You seem to avoided being injured throughout your whole career, how was that?
“Two of my particular strengths was my mental strength and secondly durability and not just playing through pain as a lot of these players do now today, but I think that it’s being able to manage the pain and when to be sensible in terms of those periods of time where I had to take time out with a broken jaw and so forth. But during the rest of the season, I was able to play in the majority of the games but I think that comes back to one core factor, is being super fit and that’s one of the things I managed myself on in terms of being super fit and I think that helped me tremendously.”
It shows how rough and tough rugby league really is?
“It does and I know that I don’t say this casually or loosely, it’s part and parcel of the game. We obviously would like these particular injuries not to happen, it is like a car crash every time you go out there and go into a tackle or make a tackle it is like a car crash and the expectancy in terms of injuries is always going to happen and is bound to happen but the laws of the game have changed from my period of time in the head high tackles and making sure that there’s a duty of care to the players that each individual player has to each other and the respect players have for each other, that’s crucial and important.”
How would you have found summer rugby league?
“That would have been no problem to me. I was always adaptable, I never let elements sway me or change my mind or play any different. My game was very basic and simple in terms of that understanding the game in terms of that doing the simple things for longer periods of the opposition whether it be individual or collectively as a team.”
Who’s your money on for the big trophies at the end of the season?
“I’m not a betting man in the slightest, but one of the things I would like to see is a very close competition. I’d like to see at least half a dozen teams in the runnings. You’ve got all the usual suspects, the Warringtons, the St Helens, the Wigans and the Castlefords, and maybe dark horse in Huddersfield. I just like to see five or six teams involved and that the competition is not dominated by one or two teams and that the season is not over by the time we get to sort of three quarters in terms of the league title shield being handed out.”
You were the Great Britain captain, coach as well, it must be great to have the ashes back?
“No question about it. I think first of all, I’m very pleased to see Shaun Wane’s appointment. He’s the right man for the job, no question about it. He wants the best out of his players and one of the big things I like about Shaun, he’s not just a smart coach but every player is accountable for their responsibility for every single second they are the football paddock and I like that about Shaun, he has no excuses, no nonsense and that’s how he played the game and he’s got my total and full respect.”
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