The Man of Steel award is to be named in memory of the late Steve Prescott, the RFL has announced.
A group of fans have been campaigning for The Steve Prescott Man of Steel award since last year, and a proposal by the RFL to rename the honour was unanimously supported by the 14 Super League clubs at their EGM last week.
Steve Prescott MBE was a former St Helens, Hull, Wakefield, Ireland and England player who raised over £500,000 for charitable causes after being diagnosed with a terminal disease in 2006. His bravery and defiance was an inspiration to millions of people as he completed a series of tough, fund-raising challenges before his death in November last year.
Super League Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer said: “It is absolutely right that the player whose on-field heroics capture the imagination of his peers throughout a First Utility Super League season is presented with an award named in recognition of one of the sport’s true heroes.
“Although he never won the award himself, Steve Prescott really was a man of steel; a truly extraordinary individual who was universally respected by all who knew him and those who watched or read about his exploits.
“Steve was not only a great player and an outstanding ambassador for the sport throughout his illness, he was much more than that. He was an exceptional human being who impacted upon many more lives than the ones he touched in Rugby League and this has been highlighted by the support shown by not only the clubs but also the general public in the naming of the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award.”
Steve’s wife, Linzi Prescott, said: “The news that the Super League clubs have unanimously voted in naming the award for the Man of Steel winner after Stephen is overwhelming. His achievements during his illness always amazed me and the fact that his name will always be linked to this prestigious award will for ever be a reminder of what a special husband, dad and person he was.
“Stephen would be delighted, honoured and a little embarrassed by this announcement but we are all extremely proud. A massive thank you to all who have supported the renaming of this award and in particular those fans who petitioned to the Rugby Football League showing their respect for Stephen. Thank you.”
Mike Denning, Chairman of the Steve Prescott Foundation, added: “The naming of the award for the winner of The Man of Steel is a fitting tribute to a man who showed so much grit and determination in face of adversity.
“Steve’s name will forever live on and be known alongside such Rugby League greats as Lance Todd and Harry Sunderland. We are extremely grateful to Super League and it’s clubs who have sanctioned this move and they have recognised how Steve has promoted this great game through his efforts, and we on behalf of his foundation will continue to do so.”
The Steve Prescott Foundation has donated £526,000 to The Christies Cancer Hospital and RFL Benevolent Fund. At the start of the year the charity appointed 16 ambassadors from the world of sport to continue Steve’s legacy.