Dave Craven: Ellis, Houghton and Solomona prove quality of Super League

Hull FC's Gareth Ellis.
Hull FC's Gareth Ellis.
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IT has often been said this year it has not been a vintage Super League season.

Indeed, far from it. Many will argue it has been one of the poorest campaigns for some time although the cynics may also suggest that is a cheap ploy just to downgrade Hull FC’s fine feats so far.

However, when casting an eye over the Steve Prescott Man of Steel shortlist – or, more pertinently, the list of players who did not make the cut – it is easy to see there has, at least, undoubtedly been some quality performances from individuals.

Everywhere you looked on social media on Wednesday, for every person saluting Hull duo Gareth Ellis and Danny Houghton plus Castleford Tigers’ Denny Solomona as the top three, there seemed to be just as many people offering alternative trios entirely.

A third Hull player – the half-back Marc Sneyd who has been so central to their cause – and Warrington’s own creative power Chris Sandow had, it is understood, made the top five before it was cut down.

No one would have been surprised if either have those talents had made the leading triumvirate or even lifted the trophy itself.

Yet there are others, too, who many thought would be in the running.

Ben Currie, for instance, has been superb for Warrington, proving one of the most dynamic forwards in the game and pushing himself to the verge of an England debut.

That, of course, will not now happen this autumn given he cruelly suffered a torn cruciate ligament against Wigan last week .

He will, obviously, miss their Grand Final tilt and, given his infamous missed chance in the dying embers of the Challenge Cup final loss to Hull, has there been a player suffer such bad luck of late?

His Warrington team-mate Kurt Gidley, too, has been seen by many as one of the most influential players in Super League in 2006 but the Australian veteran did not get the nod either.

If Castleford’s Luke Gale had played for Hull or Warrington you would imagine he’d be in the mix also given the stellar way in which he has created so many tries for Daryl Powell’s side and generally steered the Wheldon Road club around.

However, it is the players themselves who vote for this award – it is not handed over to the lunacy of the media as with the Dream Team – so, in 
fairness, there can be no real complaints.

In years gone by it has not always been taken seriously. Apparently, Mickey Mouse was a frontrunner one season when votes were totted up. Now, that would have made a great picture story...

But in assessing the three that have emerged as the leading trio I think Super League’s players have done a decent job in their selection.

For me, Ellis is the likeliest victor and, personally, I think he would be a worthy winner for the manner in which he has so brilliantly led from the front for Hull this term.

The veteran back-row certainly epitomises the ‘steel’ aspect of the award, even though that no longer is its central theme.

Even though he has already said he won’t come out of international retirement for the Four Nations, if I was Wayne Bennett, I’d be giving him a little call just to make sure.