Love Rugby League has taken a look at 13 of the best players to never lay claim to the title of Man of Steel since it was first awarded in 1977.
Between 1996-05, he was one of the main catalyst’s behind Bradford’s success throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s but despite this, he still finished his career without a Man of Steel award to his name. To this day, he remains the Bulls’ second highest try scorer throughout the Super League era and has been named in Bradford’s ‘Millennium Masters’ and the West Yorkshire club’s ‘Team of the Century’.
Just like his younger brother, Henry was one of the most productive players in the league throughout the 1990s. The cross-code star’s biggest success came with Wigan and Bradford where he established himself as an efficient points scorer and playmaker. However, just like his sibling, he was never able to claim the league’s top individual honour.
If you start discussing some of the Super League’s most destructive try scorers then you will find it hard not to think of the Volcano himself. Another former Bulls player who throughout his time in Super League became one of the most dominant wingers on the field. During the 2004 Super League season, Vainikolo put on one of the greatest try scoring seasons since the league’s inception in 1996 after scoring 36 tries, a Super League record at the time. But despite his explosive dominance in the winger position, the former Kiwi international never secured the Man of Steel, an award most befitting of the type of player he was.
As Super League centres go, there were not many better than the former Sheffield and Leeds star. Over the course of his career, he was a prolific try scorer and a brutal ball runner at both domestic and international level on top of being one of the league’s most accomplished players. Between 2004-09, he was a vital cog in five Super League titles won by Leeds but despite being one of the most talented players at his position, he was never able to claim the top individual accolade.
Throughout his career, Burrow made a habit out of performing on the big stage for the Rhinos, winning two Harry Sunderland Trophies due to his man of the match performances in the 2007 and 2011 Super League Grand Finals. Although not your typical rugby league player, Burrow still managed to carve out a great career with an unfathomable Rhinos side that laid waste to the competition between 2004-17. However, even though he was one of the top individual performers in the league for well over a decade, he also would be unfortunate to miss out on the award.
The former Great Britain international was undoubtedly one of the elite players in the British game throughout the 1990s and went on to star for Featherstone, Bradford, and St Helens in a highly productive career. By the end of his career, he had more than 250 tries to his name but missed out the league’s top individual accolade.
The baby-faced assassin was one of the most exceptional and accurate goal kickers to take to the field. Over the course of his time with Bradford, he tallied more than 2,500 points and proved to be one of the Bulls’ key components during their success over the course of the early 2000s with his fantastic game management and great kicking game being so decisive. But even still, a Man of Steel award was something that always eluded him.
The former Warrington stand-off is highly regarded as one of the best number sixes of the Super League era and although the Man of Steel was always missing from his list of accomplishments, he was still able to carve out an illustrious career and proved to be a durable player for the Wire for more than a decade alongside being one of the best game mangers and kickers in the business.
Alongside being a key member of both Widnes and Warrington throughout his career, Gregory was also a highly valuable asset of the formidable Wigan side of the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning the Lance Todd Trophy in both of the Lancashire club’s 1988 and 1990 Challenge Cup final victories. He is easily regarded as one of the best players to don the Great Britain jersey but a Man of Steel award never came to fruition.
Believe it or not, the Super League era’s greatest ever try scorer has never laid claim to the title of Man of Steel. The Leeds legend pretty much won it all at domestic level but despite being one of the West Yorkshire club’s playmakers over the course of 17 years, he was never recognised as the league’s player of the year.
We go from Super League’s greatest try scorer to its highest ever points scorer. The former Leeds captain was the glue that held the Rhinos together over a string of dominance a decade long. To this day, he stands as the third highest points scorer in British rugby league history and has plenty of silverware to his name despite not laying claim to competition’s ultimate individual prize.
Alongside Paul Wellens, Radlinski is without question one of the great full-backs over the last 30 years of British rugby league. During his time with Wigan, he scored 134 league tries and was easily one of the Warriors’ most consistent performers over the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, even though he competed at such a high level for a great number of years, he never secured the honour with his best season coming in 2001 when he scored 30 tries in 30 appearances for the Lancashire outfit.
Throughout his career, Connolly was one of the best centres to take to the field and played at an elite level on a largely consistent basis for the likes of St Helens, Wigan and Leeds. Over the course of the entire 1990s and early 2000s, he cemented himself as one of the finest players of his generation with his great defensive work and attacking instincts making him great to watch but, unbelievably, he would come up short in his quest for the Man of Steel title.
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