Ellery Hanley is to chair a panel of Rugby League greats in a radical revamp of the voting system to determine Super League’s most prestigious individual honour, the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel.
Hanley is the only man to have won the award three times – in 1985, 1987 and 1989 – since it was introduced in 1977, and renamed in 2014 in honour of Steve Prescott, the former St Helens, Hull FC and Wakefield Trinity full-back who fought such an inspirational battle after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
The panel will consist of 21 former players and coaches including former Men of Steel, and boasting a combined total of 46 Championship or Grand Final wins, 41 Challenge Cup winners’ medals – and sharing the common distinction of having made more than 200 career appearances.
Hanley attended today’s official launch of the 2019 Betfred Super League season at Old Trafford, which will stage the 22nd Grand Final on Saturday October 12 – with full details of the panel to be unveiled next month.
A member of the panel will watch each Betfred Super League game in 2019 and award points to the three outstanding players: 3 points for their chosen man of the match, 2 for the runner-up, and 1 for the third-ranked player.
The scores will be made public every week from the first round of the season – which begins with the St Helens v Wigan blockbuster next Thursday night (January 31) - until Round 22 in mid-July. After that, the poll will be hidden until the Awards Ceremony in October. Further details of that event will be released throughout the 2019 Betfred Super League season.
Robert Elstone, the Super League Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted to able to announce a new, refreshed voting system for the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel award.
“Rugby League was a pioneer in introducing the Man of Steel title more than 40 years ago, recognising the importance of celebrating the players who give so much to make the sport special.
“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.
“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.
“We’d like to thank all of those involved in the new process and look forward to seeing the battle for the game’s ultimate individual award unfold over the course of the 2019 Betfred Super League season.”