It’s the best player and the player who’s had the biggest impact on the competition over that full season. With that in mind, you can’t look past Ben Barba. I think he was outstanding earlier on, almost unplayable and, even as part of an opposing team, he was a pleasure to watch.
He’d be a stand-out. However, with me being an old-school forward I like the Man of Steel to be just what it sounds like – a tough bloke who rolls his sleeves up and makes an impact on the game in that way.
In that regard, the one that stands out for me is probably Barba’s St Helens team-mate James Roby. The hooker’s been absolutely superb this year. He manages to do it year on year, so consistently. He’s played absolutely brilliant yet again and is so influential for Saints.
In terms of others I’ve played with, he reminds me of people like Danny McGuire and Danny Houghton; the level of their game is so high week in, week out you don’t get any peaks and troughs in their performance.
There’s the old saying that “the lows make the highs even better” but with Roby, McGuire and Mint (Houghton) you just never get the lows.
They give solid eight out of 10 performances week in, week out and that’s why probably they don’t get noticed as much; people just expect to regularly see such quality from them.
However, when you play with that type of player you really notice it and truly appreciate they put their bodies on the line every week for you, someone who’s stood next to them.
For me, that’s what a real Man of Steel’s all about; being that player everyone else wants to play with. Roby’s definitely that and I’m sure the Saints boys have the same opinion of him.
He’s been so good for so long and he’d get my vote. I played alongside Roby the last time we beat Australia back in 2006 with Great Britain in Sydney.
It was actually his first trip away with Great Britain and he was running around like a spring chicken after that game.
I thought ‘how’s he got the energy to do that after a Test match?’ He’s still the same now!