The Liam Farrell Column: Why James Roby got my vote for the Man of Steel
Our exclusive columnist reveals how he voted for the coveted individual trophy
The voting forms for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel arrived at the training ground this week.We’re each asked to pick three names, ranked 1st to 3rd – and it was a St Helens clean-sweep from me.My No.1 choice was pretty easy to make – St Helens hooker James Roby.Saints have been consistent throughout the year and he has played well for 80 minutes week in, week out – I think they’d have struggled to have the season they’ve had without him.There are players who throughout the year have had better games than him, but consistency is a really valued trait, and he has consistently been one of the better players.He’s got a great motor but he’s also smart about what he does, he paces himself, he doesn’t blow himself out and he doesn’t get flustered either in attack or defence.My second pick was Luke Thompson.He’s been really good for the last few years and this season, with no Alex Walmsley, he’s provided a lot of their go-forward.I know when we’ve played them, we’ve had Benny Flower, Tony Clubb and Lockers flying at him, but he’s fronted up and carried on playing well. He’s also done some things in other games I’ve watched, such as beating the full-back and making breaks, which you don’t normally see from front-rowers.My third pick was Ben Barba.He has been really good for Super league. Earlier this year he really stood out, and I thought he deserved to be in my reckoning. He’s not stood out as much in the back end of the season, I’ve heard people saying he’s dropped off, but you have to consider two things.Firstly, it would be hard for anyone to maintain that level of form all year.And secondly, opposition teams are wising up to him.We definitely did our homework on him before our last meeting, working on ways to limit how much space he has.I still think his form has been good, and there’s no doubting earlier this year it was exceptional.These are my picks – I know from speaking to the other lads, other names got mentioned. Quite a few talked about Paul McShane, at Cas’, Micky McIlorum at Catalans, and Bryson Goodwin at Warrington.We are not allowed to vote for team-mates, but when players at other clubs sit down and fill in their forms, I imagine a few of our players may come into the reckoning, especially John Bateman and Sam Tomkins – they have been exceptional for us this season.
This will be the fifth game again Warrington this year – we know each other pretty well! There have been some interesting games, we blew them away at the Magic Weekend and that gave them a rod in the back when we met in the Challenge Cup.For us, it’s about getting the win to try and seal second place and making sure we get a home semi-final – we have a good home record and it would be a big advantage. Castleford are also very strong at home and they’ll be trying to overtake us.
Finally, all the best to Macauley Davies after he was forced to hang up his boots on medical grounds. He’s devastated. To think someone at 22 has to retire is heartbreaking, but I know the club is looking after him, especially through our welfare manager, Steve McCormack.All players do something towards our next career. I’m halfway through my strength and conditioning degree, and others are doing courses and qualifications. I’m confident that whatever Macauley does, he will be a success.