Castleford Tigers’ Liam Watts ‘honoured’ to be on Man of Steel shortlist
The ex-Hull FC front-row joins Warrington Wolves stand-off Blake Austin, St Helens full-back Lachlan Coote, Salford Red Devils scrum-half Jackson Hastings and Wigan Warriors stand-off George Williams in the frame for the award as Super League’s best player.
A panel of expert judges, led by former Leeds, Wigan and Great Britain captain Ellery Hanley MBE, have been awarding points to the top three performers in every Betfred Super League game this season.
When voting ‘went dark’ after round 22 – when scores for individual performances stopped being published – Austin and Hastings were tied for the lead with seven more games remaining.
Watts, 29, said: “With those two five points in front when it went behind closed doors I knew it would be tough.
“Blake Austin got injured and I picked up an injury that put me out for a couple of weeks while Jackson Hastings played well in those two games.
“It’d be a big feat to actually win it but I’m just honoured to be up there nominated with that group; that’s special itself as there’s so many good names playing outstandingly well.”
However, strong displays from a number of players in the closing seven rounds of the regular season now has people wondering just who will emerge as the victor when announced during the Betfred Super League Awards at the Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays, on October 6.
Hanley, the only player to win three Man of Steel awards since its inception in 1977, said: “The panellists have been lucky to have witnessed first-hand some exceptional performances this season.
“I have often watched games back before awarding points at the matches I’ve been judging and that has helped me appreciate even more the range of skill and determination of so many players.
“The five guys in contention have been pivotal to their team’s success this season and for that they deserve recognition.
“But only one person can win and we look forward to finding out who that is at the Super League Awards next month.”
This is the first year of the revamped Man of Steel Awards.
The new format will be a 90-minute cinematic presentation, built around content from the Leeds-based filmmakers The City Talking, whose recent work includes the Amazon Prime documentary Take Us Home: Leeds United.