Dave Craven: Former Bulldog prop Walmsley certainly has steel appeal

St Helens' Alex Walmsley
St Helens' Alex Walmsley
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AT the third attempt, an all-action, leg-pumping prop could finally win the Steve Prescott Man of Steel this season.

I am not writing about Jamie Peacock, though, the Leeds Rhinos talisman whom many felt deserved the honour in 2013 and, perhaps even more so, 2014.

As good as the 37 year-old remains in what is his final season as a player – statistically, he is Super League’s third highest in metres and carries – the former England captain will be the first to admit he cannot be merited as the competition’s most influential individual.

Not this season, at least.

No, the front-row juggernaut I am referring to is Alex Walmsley, the St Helens forward who has bludgeoned defences mercilessly this term to continue his amazing career trajectory.

It is always a difficult process sifting through which player has had the biggest impact on a season as it is such a hard thing to quantify and remains open to so much interpretation.

It is probably a good reason why the players themselves, with a little help from a select committee, now vote for their pick; they are closest to the action and their opinions are worth far more than any other.

But if you took a straw poll of any of them today, the majority will say they just hate facing that wrecking ball Walmsley.

Much like last season, when they somehow scraped their way to the title bloodied, depleted but unbowed, Saints have struggled at times for momentum.

However, whenever they have needed a lift, more often than not it is a charging carry from Walmsley – all awkward arms and legs splattering defenders in his way – that has done the trick.

All it needs is one such drive, or one big hit (he can do that, too) to help change the course of a match and the hulking Yorkshireman seems more adept at it than anyone anywhere in 2015.

There are others in the running, not least his club colleague James Roby whom Saints coach Keiron Cunningham paid the ultimate compliment last week by saying the England star is a better hooker than he ever was.

Considering there is a statute of Cunnigham standing outside Langtree Park, that speaks volumes.

But also, unusually, there is a big surge from across the Channel with many believing Catalans’ two second-rows – Australian Zeb Taia and Bradford’s own Elliott Whitehead – are contenders.

For me, another prop, Leeds’ Adam Cuthbertson, has been super in his first season since joining from Newcastle Knights although his form, like the club’s, has dipped a little of late.

Similarly, another NRL recruit – Terry Campese – started brilliantly for Hull KR with a series of stylish displays at stand-off.

But playing behind a pack that seemed to lose another player every week had an obvious effect on his magic and now, cruelly, the Australian’s season has been ended by injury.

Another No 6, Kevin Brown, has been impressive again for Widnes but I do think Walmsley – and not just because he is 6ft 5in and almost 18st – gets the nod.

The former Batley Bulldogs player is the league’s leading metre maker with 2,558 and also had more carries than anyone totalling 338.

But the 25-year-old – he has to be given a chance by England in the Four Nations – had bust 71 tackles along the way, bettered only by Kallum Watkins and Mark Minichiello.

Man of Steel? Yes, indeed.