At today’s Super League launch event in Manchester, the organisation confirmed the long-expected change to the voting for the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel award with rugby league legend Ellery Hanley set to chair the voting panel.
Instead of the award being voted for at the end of the season by members of the media, 21 former players and coaches form the panel. Each Super League match will be watched by a member of the group and they will vote for the top three players on show in each match, giving three points to the best and one to the third-best. The scores will be made public each week from the opening round until round 22 in mid-July when the votes will be hidden until the end of season ceremony where the winner of the award will be presented.
The change in the system sees the voting for Super League’s most prestigious individual award become similar to the voting structure for the NRL’s Dally M awards and Hanley, being the only three-time winner of the Man of Steel award, lifting the trophy in 1985, 1987 and 1989, is certainly a fitting man to lead the panel.
Super League’s chief executive Robert Elstone announced the change in the system at the launch event and was delighted to reveal Hanley as the man in charge of the voting process. “Who better, in that regard, to chair our new panel than Ellery Hanley MBE? A true great of the game, whose name still resonates well beyond it, and who is held in complete respect by the modern generation of players,” he explained to the assembled media. “Ellery will lead a panel with outstanding credentials. Its unrivalled and extensive knowledge and experience will underpin the award’s credibility and by sharing the votes after each round, we will create interest and talkability all the way through to awards night,” he added, clearly confident that the change will increase the profile of the award.
The opening match of Super League is just a week away with Hull KR and Hull FC set to face off and the players on show will no doubt be keen to start making strides towards a challenge for the honour.