VETERAN PROP Andy Lynch has been tipped by Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell as a potential Man of Steel candidate.
Powell highlighted Lynch as being at the heart of Tigers’ unexpected surge up the First Utility Super League table and their march into the semi-finals of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.
Lynch, now 34, began his career at hometown club Castleford in 1999.
He joined Bradford Bulls ahead of the 2005 season and moved to Hull at the end of 2011.
After two seasons there he signed for Castleford last September on a two-year deal and Powell said his arrival has proved a catalyst for Tigers’ improved fortunes, after they finished 12th in Super League last term.
“We’ve had quite a lot of players who’ve had outstanding seasons,” Powell said.
“People are talking about Daryl Clark and Michael Shenton potentially (for Man of Steel), but I think Andy Lynch has been outstanding.
“People talk about Jamie Peacock a lot – and rightfully so – but Andy has just been incredible for us.
“He has had a fantastic season and he is just so consistent both on and off the field. He has been massive.”
Powell admitted he was “a bit surprised” Tigers were able to snare Lynch from Hull, where he had a year left on his contract.
“I was really pleased, obviously,” he said.
“Jonny Walker left and Andy Lynch came in and he has been huge. I can’t speak highly enough about him and the way he goes about his business, off the field.
“He drives others players and he has driven the pack this year. There’s quite a lot of high-quality players in there and Grant Millington is another one who is really intelligent and experienced.
“They have driven the pack and they have all gone with them. He has been a massive signing for us.”
Lynch has five England caps and one for Great Britain.
Asked if he thinks the big front-rower could force his way into the squad for this autumn’s Four Nations series in Australia and New Zealand, Powell said: “I don’t know whether it’s something he thinks about or wants to do.
“He is certainly a high-quality player and he’s duarable and tough.
“There’s a lot of good-quality front-rowers around. There’s some in the southern hemisphere and they are outstanding, but Lynchy has been all season.
“JP gets talked about a lot over here, but I think he is in the same bracket.”
Tigers skipper Shenton has been another star performer this season.
Shenton has come up against two of his potential rivals for an England place in recent matches and Powell said: “We played Huddersfield and I thought he played Leroy Cudjoe off the field.
“I thought he gave Kallum Watkins a tough old time when we played Leeds. The way he has played all year, his leadership has grown and grown.
“He was pretty new into it last year as a captain, but I think he has been imamculate this season as a leader and a performer.”