IT IS that time of year again where I routinely get laughed at, lambasted, ridiculed and the like – yes, here is my Super League Dream Team selection.
Members of the media are called upon to give their ‘insight’ for the mythical XIII which always creates plenty of debate.
This time around, on my part at least, there has not been the need for too much mulling and pondering but here goes...
There has been no better full-back than Jamie Shaul who brings so much to Hull FC’s attack while, crucially, improving his defensive game, too, in 2016.
As for wingers, one was an easy pick – Castleford Tigers’ prolific Denny Solomona, the dazzling Kiwi who seems to find more unique and mind-baffling ways to score each week with his remarkable one-handed finishes.
With 35 tries already, he could, in Perpignan this evening, equal the Super League regular season record of 36, set by Bradford Bulls’ Lesley Vainikolo in 2004.
On the other flank, Catalans’ Jodie Broughton started impressively, while Jermaine McGillvary, Dom Manfredi and Josh Charnley all have claims but Widnes Vikings’ Corey Thompson, with his 24 tries, nudges it.
Mahe ‘The Beast With The Golden Teeth’ Fonua is a certainty in one centre spot following his sensational debut season at Hull FC from Melbourne Storm.
It should be illegal a man of that size and sheer strength being allowed to run out wide.
Alongside him, for me, is Wigan Warriors’ Anthony Gelling who, in a remarkable transformation from the raw, error-prone version who arrived in 2012, is now genuinely world-class.
At stand-off, George Williams has impressed again at Wigan but, for sheer impact on a side, I cannot look any further than Warrington’s imported Australian veteran Kurt Gidley.
They desperately needed a half-back of his control, temperament and leadership and, thankfully, he has immediately settled in following his NRL move.
Alongside him for Wire is the brilliant Chris Sandow but, despite a strong challenge from him and Hull’s Lance Todd Trophy winner Marc Sneyd, Castleford’s Luke Gale gets my nod.
No one has more than his 41 try assists – going into this round, nearest challenger Sandow was only on 25 – so Gale retains his Dream Team place from 2015.
Up front, Scott Taylor has enjoyed a dream first season at KC Stadium and epitomised everything that is good about Lee Radford’s title-chasing side while St Helens’ Alex Walmsley is everything a coach desires in a prop and remains arguably the competition’s most destructive player.
At hooker, Hull’s Danny Houghton has been as consistent as he always has been for three or four years now but, with FC’s greater success as a side, he may actually get the merit his efforts deserve with a place in the Dream Team for the first time.
To beat off competition from Daryl Clark and James Roby shows just how terrific he has been.
Warrington second-row Ben Currie, with the pace and dynamism of a centre, has been outstanding all year and must make his England debut this autumn.
Alongside him, perhaps controversially, I’m going for Sika Manu, another Hull signing who has been a revelation in his first year there.
Loose forward is traditionally difficult to fill given most coaches play an extra prop nowadays but, in 2016, Hull captain Gareth Ellis has operated there in a traditional style, producing form that may see him win Man of Steel, too.