Leeds Rhinos captain Luke Gale assesses Man of Steel contenders - and hopes Castleford Tigers' Paul McShane can win big prize
Leeds Rhinos captain Luke Gale will be rooting for his former Castleford Tigers teammate Paul McShane when the 2020 Man of Steel is named this evening.
Gale won Betfred Super League’s top individual award three years ago when he was a Castleford player in the same team as McShane.
The hooker – a former Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity player – is aiming to become Tigers’ fifth Man of Steel, after Adrian Vowles, Rangi Chase, Daryl Clark and Gale.
Other nominees this season are Wigan Warriors full-back Bevan French and second-rower Liam Farrell, St Helens full-back Lachlan Coote and Huddersfield Giants scrum-half Aidan Sezer.
The honour, introduced in 1977, has gone to a Wigan player 11 times and Saints on nine occasions.
Two Huddersfield players have won it.
Wigan will take on St Helens in Friday’s Grand Final after finishing first and second on the table. Tigers were eighth and Giants finished the year in seventh spot and Gale reckons that will count against McShane and Sezer.
“On a personal note, I’d love to see Paul McShane’s name on it,” Gale said.
“I think the form of the team, not him necessarily because he was still very good [might count against him].
“They fell off after lockdown, which is disappointing.
“Sezer had some great games, but same again – Huddersfield finished seventh.
“I think if you are going to be Man of Steel you have probably got to be in one of the best teams.
“I do think they [McShane and Sezer] have been stand-outs for their teams and they probably could have come even lower in the league if it wasn’t for them, but I do think it has been hard to get a gauge on it.”
French has already won the Rugby League Writers’ and Broadcasters’ Association player of the year award.
“The best player in the comp’ has been Bevan French,” Gale added.
“He has been a real standout and he is good to watch, his footwork is fantastic.
“Liam Farrell has been very good, but I wouldn’t see him as being Man of Steel.
“Coote started the season really well, he has been massive for Saints and I rate him as a great player, but I think he has been more seven/eight out of 10.”
At the end of most seasons there is an outstanding candidate, but Gale reckons that’s not the case this year.
He admitted: “It is a tough year to pick one.
“Macca was kind of running away with it until half way through the season when Cas’ form became a bit indifferent.
“It is really hard to pin down and no-one sticks out this year because it has been stop-start.
“It is hard to build any momentum because you’ll play one week and miss two.
“That has been the hard part when you talk about Man of Steel.
“It has been difficult to get your form – you have a couple of great games and you’re really finding your groove and then you’ll be hit by a couple of weeks off because of Covid. It has been a strange year.”
The full Super League Awards will be broadcast on Sky Sports Mix from 5.30pm today (Monday).