In a five-man list for the best Betfred Super League player for 2021 dominated by creative back talent, they are joined by the England trio of St Helens stand-off Jonny Lomax, Catalans Dragons full-back Sam Tomkins and Warrington Wolves half-back Gareth Widdop.
The award, which will be presented as part of the Betfred Super League Awards on Sky Sports (4 October, 8pm) sees an all-English shortlist for the first time since 2014, something which may please national coach Shaun Wane ahead of next year’s World Cup.
The shortlist is drawn from the points awarded each round by the Man of Steel panel over the course of the regular season.
As with 2020, due to disruption caused by Covid-19 the overall leaderboard has been ranked on a points per game basis.
This takes into account any games that a player could have played in for their team (unless a fixture is not played due to COVID-19, or a player misses a fixture to represent England or the Combined Nations).
With his excellent kicking game, Abdull has enjoyed a fine campaign piloting the Robins to the play-offs for the first time since 2013 - when many thought they would be in a relegation dogfight.
A broken wrist disrupted the 25-year-old’s progress but he returned in the win against Castleford Tigers which helped them nudge towards sealing sixth spot and finished the regular campaign with 13 assists from as many games along with four tries.
Across the city, Connor has excelled for the Airlie Birds since switching to full-back in place of the injured Jamie Shaul and arguably has finally found his best position.
Although Hull generally disappointed, Connor - who so often divides opinion - produced some brilliant attacking play out the back and produced 22 assists, second only to Catalans’ Josh Drinkwater in Super League.
He added six tries himself and - unwanted for now by Wane - also shone for the Combined Nations All Stars against England in June, although a knee injury picked up that night derailed his and his club’s campaign.
At 31, and given his consistent form over the years, it is a surprise that it has taken until now for England stand-off Lomax to earn his first Man of Steel nomination.
He hopes to help Saints win the title for a third season in a row and his creativity and game management - especially when Theo Fages has been sidelined - has been crucial once more.
Lomax has made 14 assists in 17 appearances and continues to be one of the most influential players in the competition.
Tomkins, though, is perhaps the favourite to take the award for a second time having initially won it with Wigan Warriors in 2012.
The England full-back, 32, has been instrumental for Steve McNamara’s Catalans as the French club lifted the League Leaders’ Shield for the first time.
They now stand just 80 minutes from a maiden Grand Final and Tomkins was leading the rankings when the Man of Steel votes went dark after Round 18.
His statistics are immense; in 19 appearances this season, Tomkins has been directly involved in 30 of the Dragons tries, racking up 10 tries and an impressive 20 assists plus an impressive 66 tackles busts as well as numerous try-saving tackles.
Widdop, meanwhile, has recaptured some of his best form after a difficult first season in Super League in 2020 following a move from St George Illawarra.
Ten tries and 13 assists only tells half the story and his blossoming half-back partnership with George Williams could yet take Warrington to their first league title since 1955.