Inside RL: Casting my votes and selecting Dream Team to tackle the best – Peter Smith

Wakefield Trinity's wonder winger, Tom Johnstone. PIC: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Wakefield Trinity's wonder winger, Tom Johnstone. PIC: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
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THE 2018 Betfred Super League Dream Team will be announced on Monday, October 1.

The selection panel comprises members of the media who award five points to the first choice in each position, three for second choice and one for third.

Here are are this writer’s votes.

Full-back:

Five points Ben Barba (St Helens), three points Tony Gigot (Catalans Dragons), one point Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves).

Super League’s top try-scorer hasn’t been at his best recently, but Barba’s early-season form made him a shoo-in.

Wing:

Five points Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity), three points Bureta Faraimo (Hull), one point Tommy Makinson (St Helens).

Johnstone is Super League’s top try-scoring winger with 20 touchdowns this season.

His recent try in Trinity’s win at KCOM Stadium, when he sliced through what seemed like the entire Hull defence, was a classic example of his finishing skills.

Wingers are paid to get over the whitewash and on that basis Faraimo, with 17 for Hull, gets the second-choice points.

Centre:

Five points Bill Tupou (Wakefield), three points Mark Percival (St Helens), one point Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers).

Trinity aren’t the most fashionable club so their players often get overlooked, but Tuopu is the competition’s top metre maker and is getting better and better.

Percival is a class act, able to finish and create tries and a key component in Saints’ march towards the league leaders’ shield.

Stand-off:

Five points Jonny Lomax (St Helens), three points George Williams (Wigan Warriors), one point Jacob Trueman (Castleford).

Lomax has had a fine season for Saints with 15 tries and 14 assists up to last weekend.

With his injury problems behind him, he is developing into a top-class play-maker and is exciting to watch.

Scrum-half:

Five points Danny Richardson (St Helens), three points Josh Drinkwater (Catalans Dragons), one point Thomas Leuluai (Wigan).

Richardson has been just as impressive for Saints as the more hyped Barba.

He tops the Super League lists for goals (110) and points (239) and has been another vital cog in Saints’ machine.

Props:

Five points Luke Thompson (St Helens), three points Liam Watts (Castleford), one point David Fifita (Wakefield).

Thompson stepped up to the mark after the loss through long-term injury of Alex Walmsley, keeping Saints on the front foot and ensuring their halves play behind a dominant pack.

Liam Watts has been a tower of strength for Tigers following his move from Hull and, crucially, seems to have put his disciplinary issues behind him. An England call-up surely beckons.

Hooker:

Five points Paul McShane (Castleford), three points James Roby (St Helens), one point Daryl Clark (Warrington).

Roby will get the nod and has been excellent for Saints this year, but McShane doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

He is Super League’s top tackler, has a kicking game, is clever close to the line and can also fill in effectively in the halves.

Second-row:

Five points John Bateman (Wigan), three points Oliver Holmes (Castleford), one point Ben Murdoch-Masila (Warrington).

Wigan will miss Bateman when he departs to the NRL.

He is tough and skilful, while Holmes has been a model of consistency for Tigers.

Loose-forward:

Five points Adam Milner (Castleford), three points Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan), one point Greg Bird (Catalans).

Loose-forward isn’t really a specialist position any more, but Milner has come on in leaps and bounds since switching from hooker.

He thoroughly deserved his call into the England Knights performance squad.

So the Yorkshire Evening Post Dream Team is: Ben Barba, Tom Johnstone, Bill Tupou, Mark Percival, Bureta Faraimo, Jonny Lomax, Danny Richardson, Luke Thompson, Paul McShane, Liam Watts, John Bateman, Oliver Holmes, Adam Milner.