Dave Craven: Why there’s no place for retiring Peacock in my dream team

Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield.

Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield.

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THE annual email has landed once more so it is time to get all dreamy again.

Yes, the Super League Dream Team is up for voting and this year there will be at least one notable omission from my selection.

First, though, it is undeniable that Zak Hardaker has been the competition’s finest full-back in 2016 and the only debate of any merit is whether Steve McNamara will decide the Leeds Rhinos man is also the country’s best.

On the wing, there is a plethora to choose from with three – Wigan’s Joe Burgess, Hull FC’s Tom Lineham and Huddersfield’s Jermaine McGillvary all leading the try-scoring list last week on 21. That is before you even mention Leeds’s Ryan Hall, Wigan’s rookie Dom Manfredi, St Helens’s Tommy Makinson and those two fine NRL signings at Hull KR, Josh Mantellato and Ken Sio.

I am opting for McGillvary, who is so much more than just a finisher given the robust work he performs coming out of his own half, and Mantellato, who, given his success with the boot, too, has been one of the best value-for-money signings around.

Inside them, there is probably no better centre in the world, let alone Super League, than Kallum Watkins, the regal Leeds player, while Huddersfield’s Joe Wardle is an all-round talent, too.

At stand-off, I loved what Terry Campese did for Hull KR early in the season but he has been injured since June so, for all the flair and ingenuity, of those performances, I can’t force him in.

I will say Wigan’s George Williams, who has demonstrated real maturity at a tender age in such an influential position.

Alongside him, I go for some experience; Albert Kelly has shown moments of brilliance with Rovers, Wigan’s Matty Smith has been fine, but I have chosen Leeds’s Danny McGuire for such sustained high quality in the leaders’ ranks.

Up front, Adam Cuthbertson has been a revelation for Leeds following his move from Newcastle Knights, the ball-handling prop’s brilliant offloading starting so many of their best tries.

He can hit, too, and has been a breath of fresh air for Super League.

Few would argue if the 30-year-old became just the sixth Australian to win Man of Steel since its inception in 1977.

Alex Walmsley, similarly, has had such a positive effect on St Helens. What a handful. The former Batley Bulldogs prop just gets better and better.

It will be a crying shame if he does not make his England debut versus New Zealand at some point in November.

By selecting these two swashbuckling units, I am, of course, leaving out a certain Jamie Peacock MBE which, I know, is tantamount to sacrilege, especially in the final year of his playing career, but just shows how competitive the front-row is in 2015.

At hooker, James Roby has underlined his quality once more and narrowly pips Leeds’s similarly influential Paul Aiton.

Back-row is awash with talent – Liam Farrell, John Bateman, Carl Ablett, Ben Currie, Joe Greenwood, Oli Holmes, Gareth Ellis...

But I’m plumping for Hull FC’s dogged Aussie Mark Minichiello and Leeds’s Stevie Ward, who has come of age in 2015.

At No 13, Sean O’Loughlin remains so central to everything Wigan do well. A terrific forward.

Craven’s Dream Team: Hardaker (Leeds); McGillvary (Huddersfield), Watkins (Leeds), Wardle (Huddersfield), Mantellato (Hull KR); Williams (Wigan), McGuire (Leeds); Cuthbertson (Leeds), Roby (St Helens), Walmsley (St Helens), Ward (Leeds), Minichiello (Hull FC), O’Loughlin (Wigan).

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