Castleford Tigers winger Denny Solomona has missed out on rugby league’s top honour as Hull FC hooker Danny Houghton beat off stiff competition to be named the 2016 Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel.
Houghton, who is the first ever Hull FC player to win the coveted award, has been at the heart of the Black and Whites attack and defence this year, playing a major role in their Ladbrokes Challenge Cup victory and helping them secure a top three finish in the First Utility Super League for the first time since 2006.
Shortlisted alongside teammate Gareth Ellis and Castleford Tigers winger Denny Solomona, the 28-year-old Hull FC player has been in fine form this season and received the award as the stand-out performer in 2016 at the First Utility Super League Man of Steel dinner held at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, Manchester.
Houghton secured the award following a ballot of 288 Super League players and beat Hull Captain Ellis, who finished in second place, by almost twice as many first choice votes 113 to 59.
For the first time ever the choices of every Super League player who voted have been made public on rugby-league.com. Each Super League player votes for three players they feel deserves the award, with their first choice receiving five points, second choice receiving three points and third choice receiving one point.
This year’s winner, Danny Houghton, voted for Warrington Wolves’ captain Chris Hill as his Man of Steel, while second placed Gareth Ellis voted for Hill’s team-mate Daryl Clark. Third placed Denny Solomona agreed with the majority of his fellow professionals and voted for Danny Houghton in first, and Gareth Ellis in second.
The squads of the two 2016 Super League Grand Finalists, Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves had slightly different views on who should have picked up the 2016 award, with the majority of Warrington’s first team squad giving their first choice votes for Houghton and the majority of Wigan’s squad giving their first choice votes for his team-mate Ellis.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats winger Tom Johnstone picked up the Young Player of the Year award. Johnstone made a significant contribution to the much improved team performance of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats who achieved a top eight finish in 2016. Voted for by a panel of national media journalists, Johnstone scored 14 tries in 24 game, including a 95m wonder try against Huddersfield Giants and pipped Widnes’ Matthew Whiteley and Wigan’s Ryan Sutton by just one vote.
It has been a memorable year for Hull FC who were also named 2016 Super League Club of the Year. With a historic Challenge Cup final victory in one of the most thrilling finals against Warrington Wolves, they also secured a third place finish in the Super League table and have been one of the top performers in all competitions.
Their coach Lee Radford was named Coach of the Year, as voted for by his fellow peers in the game. A former player for the Black and Whites, Radford spent two years as assistant coach and Under 20s coach before being appointed head coach at the end of the 2013 season.
During his time as coach, he has completely rebuilt the squad and successfully guided the team to a historic Challenge Cup final victory and Hull FC’s highest league position since 2006.
Widnes Vikings were named the Super League Foundation of the Year. Their programme stood out this year because it has developed considerably over the last year. Their innovative partnership with health and the local authority to support a wide array of projects impressed the review panel.
Retiring Super League players Gregory Mounis (254 appearances), Jamie Langley (250), Kirk Yeaman (339), Luke Dorn (257), Luke Robinson (339), Pat Richards (218), Paul Jackson (296), Paul Wood (309), Richard Mathers (249), Stephen Wild (276), Stuart Littler (247), Wayne Godwin (237) were also presented with Outstanding Contribution Awards to mark their long service to the competition having made over 200 Super League appearances.
The award winners in full from the 2016 First Utility Super League Man of Steel awards are as follows:
Hit man – Danny Houghton (Hull FC – 1289 tackles)
Top metre maker – Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves – 3983 metres made)
Top try-scorer – Denny Solomona (Castleford Tigers – 40 tries)
Top Gun – Marc Sneyd (Hull FC – 83% conversion rate)
Outstanding Contribution – Gregory Mounis, Iafeta Paleaaesina, Jamie Langley, Kirk Yeaman, Luke Dorn, Luke Robinson, Pat Richards, Paul Jackson, Paul Wood, Richard Mathers, Stuart Littler, Wayne Godwin
Foundation of the Year – Widnes Vikings
First Utility Super League Club of the Year – Hull FC
First Utility Super League Young Player of the Year – Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats)
First Utility Super League Coach of the Year – Lee Radford (Hull FC)
The Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel – Danny Houghton (Hull FC)