1. Todd Carney – Catalans Dragons
Todd Carney was one of the frontrunners at the start of the 2015 season to win this award, however much like his team in general, his season never really got going due to injury. We only saw glimpses of what the tattooed stand-off can do with the ball in his hands. With the departure of Scott Dureau a massive blow to the Dragons, it will be up to Carney to take full control of the side who have recruited well in the off-season with the likes of Pat Richards and Richie Myler. If the ex-State of Origin star can get anywhere near the form he showed in the NRL just a few years ago, then the Man of Steel (MOS) award may be heading to the south of France for the first time in its history.
2. John Bateman – Wigan Warriors
Out of the six people selected in this piece, Bateman is probably the ‘outsider’ of them all, although the bookies may beg to differ. Bateman was arguably Wigan’s star player in 2015, operating in a number of positions that included second row, loose forward and finally centre. Tough, hard-working, the former Bradford Bull doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty and will do a job wherever he’s selected. Couple his fine form for club and country with Sean O’Loughlin being another year older, and his injuries affecting the veteran more than ever, you can expect to see Bateman slot easily into the captain’s position and push his way into the MOS reckoning.
3. Chris Hill – Warrington Wolves
In what was an underwhelming season for Warrington in 2015, Chris Hill was one of the shining lights for the Wolves. The Leigh-born prop forward was the fourth-highest metre maker throughout the season with 3706 metres, resulting in many Wire fans considering Hill unlucky not to find himself on the shortlist for the award last season. Just like for England, the heargeared one did not let his club down. If Hill comes close to anywhere near his performances from last season, and there’s an upturn in Warrington’s form in 2016, don’t be surprised to see him crowned come October.
4. Alex Walmsley – St Helens
Alex Walmsley was one of the three nominees for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel last season, and would have been a worthy winner of the coveted accolade had the vote gone his way. Super League’s top metre maker in 2015 with 4092 meteres is the ‘go-to’ man in Saints’ massive forward line and will be once more leading from the front this season. Only injury stopped him making his debut for England in November. It won’t be long before the Dewsbury-born prop wins the award if his performances keep to a level as high as it is now, and it could be ‘his year’ in 2016.
5. Chris Sandow – Warrington Wolves
Chris Sandow made the move from the Parramatta Eels to Lancashire during the 2015 campaign, with his new club already suffering from an inconsistent season. This resulted in Sandow not being able to show his true potential, with the club not pushing for trophies during the season. However, 2016 is a different story, with Tony Smith and the club recruiting well in the off-season, giving the whole club a renewed sense of optimism. Kurt Gidley offers an experienced and talented partner in the halves for his fellow Aussie. Sandow showed flashes of quality last season, and will be hoping to perform on a regular basis throughout 2016 to give himself and his club the chance of silverware in the upcoming season. Eyes will be on the nuggety halfback to see what he produces.
6. Sam Tomkins – Wigan Warriors
Having returned to his boyhood club after a two-year stint with the New Zealand Warriors, Sam Tomkins has been placed as the bookies’ favourite to win the award in his first year back in Super League. Although the full back is out until around Easter time, Tomkins will be wanting to hit the ground running to help Wigan go one step further and take the Super League crown in 2016. With his superb handling skills combined with his evasive footwork, added to his impeccable try-scoring record with the pie-eaters, it’s not difficult to see why he’s the favourite to win the award. With Zak Hardaker taking his number one jersey with England as well, Tomkins surely has a point to prove.