St Helens hooker James Roby has been named player of the year by the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters Association.
Roby, 32, polled around 40 per cent of the votes, pushing team-mate Ben Barba into second place and Wigan’s John Bateman into third, to win the Raymond Fletcher Memorial Trophy.
All three players are on the short-list for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award which will be made on Monday while Tony Gigot, Luke Thompson, Tommy Makinson, Bill Tupou and Danny Richardson also gained votes based on performances throughout the domestic season.
“Roby beat off plenty of fierce opposition for the coveted RLWBA award, not least from his own team-mates in a superb St Helens team that has set the standard for the rest to try and attain,” said RLWBA chairman Trevor Hunt.
“But in a season where Saints have often made it look easy, Roby has been the rock-solid foundation upon which the opposition have been broken and the tougher games won with his seemingly boundless energy.
“He’s had a superb season, following up his magnificent World Cup in 2017, with yet another peerless set of performances for St Helens.”
Roby, who has guided Saints to the League Leaders’ Shield and to within 80 minutes of the Grand Final in his first season as captain, said: “I’m made up.
“I’m a bit surprised to be honest. It’s a great honour to receive an award like this. I’ve never won it before.
“I just try to turn up each week and do my job. The way we’ve been playing as a team has obviously helped. We’ve been bringing out the best in each other.”
1996: Apollo Perelini (St Helens)
1997: Andy Farrell (Wigan)
1998: Iestyn Harris (Leeds)
1999: Iestyn Harris (Leeds)
2000: Tommy Martyn (St Helens)
2001: Paul Sculthorpe (St Helens)
2002: Adrian Lam (Wigan)
2003: Jamie Peacock (Bradford)
2004: Danny McGuire (Leeds)
2005: Jamie Lyon (St Helens)
2006: Paul Wellens (St Helens)
2007: Trent Barrett (Wigan)
2008: James Graham (St Helens)
2009: Brett Hodgson (Huddersfield)
2010: Pat Richards (Wigan)
2011: Sam Tomkins (Wigan)
2012: Sam Tomkins (Wigan)
2013: Danny Brough (Huddersfield)
2014:Jamie Peacock (Leeds)
2015: Adam Cuthbertson (Leeds)
2016: Gareth Ellis/Danny Houghton (Hull)
2017: Luke Gale (Castleford)