Castleford Tigers hooker Paul McShane wins Steve Prescott Man of Steel

Castleford Tigers star Paul McShane is the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel for 2020.

The influential hooker, 31, beat off competition from Wigan Warriors duo Bevan French and Liam Farrell, Huddersfield Giants captain Aidan Sezer and St Helens’ full-back Lachlan Coote to claim the highest individual accolade in the game.

It was a surprise decision given Castleford finished eighth outside of the play-offs and only won two games since the sport resumed after lockdown in August.

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Nevertheless, throughout it all, Leeds-born McShane has consistently performed for the Tigers, often carrying his side in times of need and also playing in the halves as their injury issues struck.

Before coronavirus shut down rugby league, he was leading the Man of Steel leaderboard with Castleford riding high in second spot and that earned the uncapped hooker a call-up into Shaun Wane’s first England squad.

The ex-Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity hooker was second behind Australian scrum-half Sezer when voting became private last month but he emerged as the victor.

Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel chairman Ellery Hanley MBE explained: “The award deservedly goes to Paul McShane because he performs in every game he plays in.

“He is ‘Mr Dependable’ and everyone holds him in the highest regard.

Castleford Tigers' Paul McShane accepts the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award from legendary former Great Britain captain Ellery Hanley (SWPIX)

“As a player, he consistently displays bravery, skill and athleticism.

“This is a man who wears his badge of honour in every action he delivers on the rugby league field.

“The phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ fits Paul McShane perfectly.

“You only have to be in his company for three minutes to discover what a gentleman and first-class human being he is.

Castleford Tigers' Paul McShane in action against Warrington. (ALEX WHITEHEAD/SWPIX)

“We are so lucky to have him in our game.”

McShane’s accolade continues Castleford’s impressive form when it comes to the Man of Steel; he is the fifth player from the West Yorkshire club to earn it after Adrian Vowles (1999), Rangi Chase (2011), Daryl Clark (2014) and Luke Gale (2017).

Leeds Rhinos’ Harry Newman was named Super League Young Player of the Year with Wigan’s Adrian Lam - whose side face Saints in Friday’s Grand Final - claiming Coach of the Year.

Huddersfield loose forward Michael Lawrence was top tackler with 749 (44 ahead of his nearest rival) while Leeds Rhinos winger Ash Handley claimed the top try scorer award with 14.

Leeds Rhinos' Harry Newman is Super League's Young Player of the Year winner. (SWPIX)

The Spirit of Super League Award – awarded to those who make a significant contribution to the sport beyond the field of play - was won jointly by Rob Burrow and Mose Masoe.

A number of changes had to be made to the Man of Steel judging process over the course of the season, given the disruption to the 2020 campaign caused by Covid-19.

There were advantages and disadvantages to selecting the winner based on either points accumulated, or on a points-per-game average, as was introduced in October.

Total points accumulated clearly favoured those whose team had completed more fixtures throughout 2020, while a points-per-game average format could favour those whose team had played fewer games.

Furthermore, without completing the full 22 rounds of the regular season, there were further inconsistencies regarding opposition.

For example, if a player played against teams in the bottom half of the table twice, but only once against teams in the top four then there is perceived advantage.

It is for these reasons that the Man of Steel contenders, who were the same five players on the leaderboard in both scenarios (total points and points-per-game), went to a final review by Hanley.

Individual player statistics throughout the season were included in the report provided to the ex-Great Britain captain, still the only player to win Man of Steel on three occasions - 1985, 1987 and 1989.