Dave Craven: Decisions, decisions ... picking that all-important Super League Dream Team

Castleford's Luke Gale: Also contender for Man of Steel.
Castleford's Luke Gale: Also contender for Man of Steel.
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IT is time to get ready for the annual torrent of abuse and feel what it must be like for an RFL referee on a weekly basis.

Yes, the invitation to select my Super League Dream Team dropped in my inbox on Monday.

I was on holiday until Thursday, though, so that is my excuse for all those who disagree with my following picks; I have had to rush the deliberation process.

The YP’s Dave Craven

I was on holiday until Thursday, though, so that is my excuse for all those who disagree with my following picks; I have had to rush the deliberation process.

Right, here goes. I would be stunned if Zak Hardaker did not get a clean sweep of votes as top No 1 such has been his brilliant form in his first season for classy Castleford Tigers.

For all the criticism he may have had after his error on Thursday night, Scott Grix has been excellent for Wakefield Trinity following his move from Huddersfield Giants and is a big reason behind their improvement while Hull’s Jamie Shaul gets my third pick.

Prolific Castleford winger Greg Eden is an obvious choice, having scored 36 tries prior to this weekend including some stunning efforts for the League Leaders’ Shield winners,

Wigan’s young Liam Marshall gets the nod on the other flank and club-mate Joe Burgess comes third, seeing off stiff competition from Jermaine McGillvary, Mahe Fonua and Ben Jones-Bishop.

It has been heartening to see Castleford captain Michael Shenton make such a successful return from major knee surgery; he has been the best centre in Super League by far and the main reason behind Eden’s glory.

St Helens’ Mark Percival pushes Jake Webster, Castleford’s evergreen Kiwi, into third spot. At stand-off, Wigan’s George Williams is the top assister in Super League with 28 while the gifted Albert Kelly has brought so much magic to Hull FC, adding that crucial ‘X Factor’ to take them to another level.

I have loved watching Robert Lui at Salford while Joel Moon has thrived on his switch from centre to six with Leeds.

But I am going for Castleford’s Benny Roberts, who has been such a dynamic and consistent force for Daryl Powell’s side.

There was plenty of pressure on, not only as he was returning from a major injury of his own but also after Rangi Chase’s controversial exit in April.

Alongside him, Luke Gale is a clear winner at No 7 – will he claim Man of Steel, too? – with Wakefield’s Liam Finn and Hull’s Marc Sneyd following on.

We are spoilt for choice with props but I plumped for Saints’ Alex Walmsley – more metres and carries than anyone else – allied with Huddersfield’s explosive Sebastine Ikahihifo.

Leeds’ Adam Cuthbertson followed closely, which means Hull’s Scott Taylor and Liam Watts plus Castleford’s Grant Millington somehow missed out.

Castleford’s classy Paul McShane is my leading hooker, a glowing example to anyone in the sport that persistence and hard work will eventually reap rewards, with Leeds’ Matt Parcell just behind in second, pipping Huddersfield tyro Kruise Leeming and Saints’ James Roby.

Second-row was easy; Tigers marauding Mike McMeeken has demolished defences while, similarly, Ben Murdoch-Masila has been wonderful to watch at Salford, Wakefield’s under-rated Matty Ashurst gaining third spot.

Wigan loose-forward Sean O’Loughlin flourished again at 35 so Castleford’s Adam Milner must make do with second, Wakefield’s Tina Arona third.

Craven’s Dream Team: Hardaker; Marshall, Percival, Shenton, Eden; Roberts, Gale; Walmsley, McShane, Ikahihifo, McMeeken, Murdoch-Masila, O’Loughlin.