Rename top award in Steve’s name

Steve Prescott
Steve Prescott

Two of rugby league’s most decorated players of modern times have called for the Man of Steel award to be re-named in honour of Steve Prescott.

Saints legends Paul Wellens and Paul Sculthorpe both believe the change would be a fitting tribute to the ex-St Helens full-back and charity fundraiser, who died on Saturday aged 39.

Even before his untimely passing, there had been a campaign in place urging rugby league bosses honour the dad-of-two, who was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer in 2006.

Current Man of Steel holder Sam Tomkins threw his weight behind the campaign over the weekend, and he is today joined by past winners Wello and Scully.

“I would back that totally,” said Saints skipper Wellens, who picked up the title of Super League’s best player in 2006. “I don’t think there’s an accolade you could give Steve that he wouldn’t deserve.

“There couldn’t be a more fitting award than the Steve Prescott Man of Steel trophy. The characteristics Steve had in buckets are what separate the normal people from the very special people like Steve.”

Wellens, who spent time with Prescott at his hospital during the last few months of his life, paid tribute to this remarkable, positive outlook on life. Likewise, ex-Saints and Great Britain captain Scully, Man of Steel winnner in 2001 and 2002, was a close pal.

The pair embarked on a series of charity endurance feats together, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds in the process, and Sculthorpe, who has worked as a business manager at Langtree Park since his retirement, had no hesitation in backing the Man of Steel campaign.

“There’s no award that could sum up Steve better, in my view,” he said.

“We have other awards in rugby league named after other players in the game, like the Lance Todd trophy.

“The name of the award, what it describes - that sums up Steve.”

Englance ace Tomkins dedicated England’s victory against Fiji to Prescott following his death.

Tomkins said: “He’s someone everyone can take inspiration from him. Some people think players are tough because we spend 80 minutes smashing each other - that’s not tough. What Steve has done for the last few years, that’s tough.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have had him present the shirts to us, and if there was one reason to win today, it was for him.”

Son of former St Helens forward Eric Prescott, he enjoyed a distinguished career as a full-back with St Helens, Hull and Wakefield, scoring in Saints’ 40-32 Challenge Cup final win over Bradford at Wembley in 1996.

He was also an integral part of the Saints team which won the first ever Super League title when the sport switched from winter to summer before embarking on the first of two stints in Hull in 1998.

Saints bosses, meanwhile, have announced they are planning to create a “permanent symbol of remembrance for Steve” which will be located at Langtree Park.

Prescott was made an MBE in the 2010 New Year Honours for services to rugby league and charity.

Former England captain Jamie Peacock wrote on Twitter: “Sad news to hear about Steve Prescott. To live the courageous way he did suffering the illness he had was inspirational. Kind, brave man.”