Leeds Rhinos: Carl Ablett reveals his Man of Steel nominations

Gareth Ellis and Chris Hill.
Gareth Ellis and Chris Hill.
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MAN OF Steel is a fantastic honour and it’s something everybody in the British game would love to win.

All Super League players get a vote and this year our choices are going to be published, which will make it more accountable.

Personally, I am not sure we are the right people to be choosing who is the top player in Super League.

I know a lot of players don’t actually watch matches, unless it’s to preview the next opposition or review the last game.

It might be better if Man of Steel was selected by the coaches, who watch every player in every fixture, but here’s my three choices and why I voted for them.

1: Gareth Ellis (Hull).

Gaz is an all-round player and he has led Hull really well this year.

He’s had a few injury problems since returning from the NRL and to come back as strongly as he has is a credit to him and a measure of him as an athlete and a character.

It’s Gaz’s all-round game that impresses me most about him.

Even when he was here, when he was younger and less experienced, he was somebody I tried to base my game on.

He can basically do everything. At Leeds during Gaz’s time we had Ali Lauitiiti, who was unbelievable skill-wise and Jonesy [Jamie Jones-Buchanan] who is fit and durable and tough and loves defending and Gaz was a combination of the two.

He is good at everything and probably the model modern back-row forward. As he has got older and matured a bit he has moved into a more of a middle role, but he possesses an all-round skill set.

He is great in defence, he can make tackles and he can off-load. You can see the difference in Hull whenever he’s out there.

The Challenge Cup final was a good example. Hull got back into the game when Gaz returned off the bench and that was no coincidence.

He has a huge influence on them as a team and he is still one of the best players in the competition.

2: Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves).

He has been phenomenal this year and for a few seasons now.

Whenever we’ve previewed Warrington he is a player we’ve identified as a key man for them.

He doesn’t get the accolades he deserves, but as a player you can appreciate what he does.

He is always there taking the second or third carry, landing on his front.

Warrington play off the back of Clark, Russell and Dwyer – all players who love running out of dummy-half – and it is because of Chris Hill, forever landing on his front and getting them going forward.

I think maybe he’s a victim of his own success. People don’t talk about him as much as they should probably because he has been so consistent for a number of years.

He possibly gets taken for granted a bit by spectators and the media, but I am sure his coaches and team-mates appreciate what he does.

And when you are playing against him you know you are in for a tough time.

I want to play with somebody like that, who can get you rolling forward and carry the ball all day.

He is fit and he can pass as well.

So, pretty much the full package for a modern front-rower.

3: Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers).

Galey is a Leeds lad who came through the Rhinos’ system and he has got to the top the hard way, playing for Doncaster and Harlequins and a struggling Bradford team before landing at Cas.

His game has really developed. Castleford are an exciting team to watch anyway, but a lot of what they do well comes through him. Probably everything you want in a half, he has got. He has got the vision and a kicking game, he takes the line on and he can pass.

It’s no surprise Denny Solomona has scored a hatful of tries playing outside Luke Gale on that left edge.

His ability to pick him out and to choose the right options is testament to how he has grown as a player and where he’s at now. He has learned a lot and he is still developing his game. When you play against him he forces you to make decisions.

He is tough to play against. Nine times out of 10 he picks the right option and he will create something for his team.

Luckless Leeds Rhinos pack man, Brett Ferres. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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