The Liam Farrell Column: My choice for Man of Steel was not too Hard!
The voting slips for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel arrived at the club this week.
I always take it seriously, and sometimes I spend days deliberating over who to pick. This year, picking my No.1 was an easy decision.
He won the award a couple of years ago when he was at Leeds - he got my vote then, too - and he was an automatic choice.
Castleford have obviously had a great season, and he’s been the stand-out player. A lot of people notice what he does in attack, but he’s very good defensively, too.
Players who vote for the Man of Steel have to put forward three names, ranked in preference order.
I spent half-an-hour mulling over the other two, before I opted for Luke Gale, in second, and then Joel Moon.
Gale has obviously had a good year with Cas’, and Joel has impressed me with the way he has taken to playing at stand-off, and caused us problems every time we’ve played Leeds.
But Zak was my clear favourite.
I was with him earlier this week when the England squad got together for our final meeting before the World Cup.
We were told we had a special guest, so we had to be prompt, and we were all guessing who it would be.
When we were told it was Prince Harry, everyone was a bit nervous – I think some of the lads were wondering if they had to be prim and proper!
But he was really laid-back, he mingled with the lads and had a chat to us all.
He seemed quite interested in rugby league, asking us about our training and about the World Cup.
Meeting him was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I think all the lads were pleased.
The mood in training this week has been in stark contrast to last week.
I sensed in the week leading up to the St Helens game we’d be up for it, there was a lot of intent to put in a good performance, but I must admit I wasn’t sure how long the energy would last for – whether Wembley had taken a lot out of the lads.
When you consider what happened the weekend earlier, I thought it was a good performance.
We couldn’t have asked for a better start, with Oliver Gildart going over for two tries in the opening five minutes.
It’s remarkable that he still qualifies for the Super League young player of the year award, because he’s already played in two Grand Finals, a Challenge Cup final and won a World Club Challenge. He’s had a lot thrown at him, and he’s only going to get better and better for us.
The feeling after the game was more relief than joy, because we knew we needed the win to keep alive our top-four hopes.
All of our games have that do-or-die feel, and we’ll all be up for this one at Hull, too.
Will Wembley will be a motivating factor?
Maybe a little. We didn’t play as well as we could in the Challenge Cup final, Hull were better on the day, but these are different circumstances.
The stakes aren’t quite as high, but they’re not far off! We know if we win this we’ll be in a good position.