“Every minute matters” now according to the RFL’s slogan for their new era, which means the big players have to stand up when it counts week in, week out.
The new era means there will be more games between the so called big boys, so we’ve come up with a list of six who could be potential Man of Steel contenders.
Of course, it’s rugby league – you won’t agree with us! Let us know who you expect to stand head and shoulders above the rest come October in the comments box below.
Zak Hardaker (Leeds)
In the headlines for both the right and the wrong reasons almost permanently since his arrival at Headingley, Hardaker is still just 23. He will increasingly be the man that Leeds look to this season, as the old-timers Sinfield, Burrow and McGuire enter the twilight of their careers. Hardaker has set his aim to take the England number one jersey off Sam Tomkins, and what better way than if he ends the Super League season as the competition’s best player.
St Helens won both the league leader’s shield and the Grand Final last season despite not really having a settled half-back pairing for most of the season. When fit, Luke Walsh has the number seven jersey boxed, and he’s been joined now by Burns, signed from Hull KR. The pair know each other from their Penrith days, and it could be a combination that fires Saints to back-to-back titles – and Burns could be the stand-out performer.
Daryl Clark (Warrington)
A key component of Castleford’s remarkable season in 2014, Tony Smith will certainly be hoping that reigning of Man of Steel Clark is the final piece of the Warrington jigsaw. If the 21-year-old repeats the form of last season, and helps to carry the Wolves that one step further to Super League glory, Clark will definitely be in the mix for personal honours come October.
Michael Dobson (Salford)
It’s nearly 10 years since an 18-year-old Dobson came over to play for Catalans as cover for Kiwi legend Stacey Jones. Despite being a prolific point scorer for the Dragons, Wigan and Hull KR, Dobson hasn’t quite been able to conquer the NRL in spells at Canberra and Newcastle. He’s back in Super League this year with Salford, and with the quality around him, Dobson is sure to be the key organiser in helping the Red Devils match the lofty ambitions of arguably the game’s biggest personality of the moment, Dr Koukash.
Matty Smith (Wigan)
Ignore Wigan at your peril. Smith has been in the Super League Dream Team for the past two seasons, and he’ll take on greater responsibility this season alongside a younger half-back partner, likely to be George Williams. No matter who goes out of the exit door at the DW Stadium, Wigan will be up there year in, year out, and if they go all the way this year, Smith will have a lot to do with it.
Jamie Peacock (Leeds)
It would be wrong to mention Man of Steel contenders and ignore this man. Peacock enters a remarkable 17th season in Super League at the age of 37, and epitomises the spirit of Man of Steel. Still playing considerable minutes and never taking a backward step, if Peacock is to bow out at the end of 2015, it’d take a brave man to bet against him being one of the contenders for an award that he has won before, back in 2003.