With ten days until the start of the 2019 Betfred Super League season, the competition’s title sponsors’ Man of Steel betting market already has a clear favourite in the form of Warrington Wolves’ new marquee signing Blake Austin.
The 27-year-old arrival from the NRL’s Canberra Raiders is viewed as a player who could still be one of the best Down Under so for him to be wearing Warrington colours in 2019 is viewed as something of a coup. The market suggests that fans believe his performances will certainly stand out this season – and why wouldn’t they? With 34 tries and countless assists in Raiders colours, Austin is certainly set to shine for Steve Price’s men and, at 7/1 at the time of writing, he is by far and away the favourite for the end of season accolade – one which, Robert Elstone has suggested, is set to be reformed and will adopt a system not dissimilar from the NRL’s Dally M awards. The NRL’s individual awards are voted for on a points system throughout the season and Elstone believes this will better reflect a player’s quality over the course of the campaign.
His closest rivals for the award are three English hookers in the shape of James Roby, Paul McShane and Daryl Clark (14/1, 14/1 and 16/1 respectively). The quality of the three is undeniable but, given that hookers rarely shine as individuals, they may perhaps be beneficiaries of the new system. Roby and Clark have, of course, won the Man of Steel award before with Saints man winning the award in 2007 and Clark seven years later. Fellow Englishman Zak Hardaker is Wigan’s leading candidate at 20/1 as he prepares to return to Super League after missing the entire 2018 season due to a drugs ban. His odds are the same as Sam Tomkins, the man who Hardaker is in line to replace as Wigan’s first choice full back after the former New Zealand Warrior joined Catalans for 2019 and beyond.
Each team’s leading candidates
Castleford Tigers: Paul McShane (16/1), Jake Trueman (25/1), Ben Roberts, Peter Mata’utia (both 40/1)
Catalans Dragons: Sam Tomkins (20/1), Tony Gigot (40/1), David Mead, Michael McIlorum, Matty Smith (all 50/1)
Huddersfield Giants: Matt Frawley (40/1), Jermaine McGillvary (50/1), Sebastine Ikahihifo, Lee Gaskell, Kruise Leeming (all 66/1)
Hull FC: Albert Kelly, Marc Sneyd, Jake Connor (all 25/1)
Hull KR: Robbie Mulhern, Shaun Lunt, Chris Atkin, Adam Quinlan, Danny McGuire (all 100/1)
Leeds Rhinos: Trent Merrin, Tui Lolohea (both 25/1), Konrad Hurrell, Kallum Watkins (both 40/1)
London Broncos: Alex Walker (66/1), James Cunningham, Eloi Pelissier (both 100/1)
Salford Red Devils: Jackson Hastings (40/1), Rob Lui, Niall Evalds, Joey Lussick (all 100/1)
St Helens: James Roby (14/1), Alex Walmsley (20/1), Luke Thompson, Lachlan Coote, Jonny Lomax, Danny Richardson (all 25/1)
Wakefield Trinity: Danny Brough, Tom Johnstone (both 50/1), Ryan Hampshire, David Fifita, Jacob Miller (all 66/1)
Warrington Wolves: Blake Austin (7/1), Daryl Clark (16/1), Stefan Ratchford (25/1)
Wigan Warriors: Zak Hardaker (20/1), George Williams (25/1), Thomas Leuluai, Morgan Escare (both 33/1)