With 10 games to play before Super League splits for the Super 8’s, Jamie Barwick picks out a player from each team to watch for the remainder of the campaign.
Castleford Tigers – Denny Solomona
Castleford Tigers have endured a mixed season this campaign but one constant has been the threat posed by Denny Solomona. The prolific 22-year-old has bagged 14 tries already this season including hat-tricks against Hull FC, Salford Red Devils and Widnes Vikings and is well on his way to beating last season’s tally of 18.
Highlighting his flexibility, the former London Broncos’ player has operated in both the full-back and wing spots providing assurances under the high ball.
If Cas are to gain a victory over Warrington Wolves rest assured that Solomona will play a major part in both attack and defence.
Catalans Dragons – Dave Taylor
Standing over 6ft tall and weighing in at 19 stone, Dave Taylor brings considerable wight to the Catalans Dragons forward pack. The former Gold Coast Titan, along with the likes of Glen Stewart and Justin Horo, have brought a new dimension to their forward line and have been a large part of their resurgence.
The ‘Coal Train’ takes some stopping when he gets into motion and does some serious damage with ball in hand.
Having made the fourth highest metres by a forward in the competition and notching up 40 tackle busts the 26-year-old will no doubt be one to watch.
Huddersfield Giants – Danny Brough
Not many people, if any, would have predicted the season that Huddersfield Giants have endured so far. Injury troubles have had a knock-on effect and seen the club rooted to the foot of the table for the majority of the season picking up only three victories.
That said if the Giants are to rescue their season and reach the top eight one man will be pivotal -their influential half-back Danny Brough. The 33-year-old, shows no signs of slowing down given his age with his kicking game one of the best in the league.
Hull FC – Jamie Shaul
In truth I could have picked various players to watch from the Black and Whites from Frank Pritchard to Marc Sneyd but I’ve opted for their full-back Jamie Shaul. Already the 23-year-old has surpassed his try tally last season scoring nine times and equalled his try assists with five.
Hull FC have risen to third in the table and Shaul, who was also nominated for the March Player of the Month award, has been vital in both departments. Making the club’s highest meters by 233, the full-back has also made the club’s joint high clean breaks highlighting his evasiveness.
Hull Kingston Rovers – Albert Kelly
Hull Kingston Rovers have had a well-documented injury list which has plagued their entire campaign and at one stage had eleven first-team players unavailable. Lacking in continuity in terms of personal has left the side in 9th-place in the table.
Slowly but surely the Robins are getting their injured bodies back and, whilst they have a slim outside chance of reaching the top eight, their half-back Albert Kelly certainly has the skill, pace and ingenuity that could be the difference in their run-in.
Leeds Rhinos – Jordan Lilley
Despite picking up ten defeats in their opening 13 games, Leeds Rhinos have had little to shout about this season but one positive has been the emergence of rising star Jordan Lilley.
The 19-year-old has been a part of the Rhinos’ team for the majority of the season standing in for Danny McGuire and has shown remarkable maturity as his side look to deal with their injury adversity.
Whilst the club will look to their more experienced players to step up to the plate, Lilley has shown he is more than capable and looks to have a bright future in the game.
Salford Red Devils – Justin Carney
Salford Red Devils recently announced the permanent signing of Justin Carney on a three-year-deal from Castleford Tigers which brings an end to a turbulent time in his career.
The Australian, who was on a season-long loan from the Tigers, no doubt has the ability on the field scoring 63 tries in 62 appearances at the Mend-a-Host Jungle.
Explosive runs and with pace to burn, Carney is certainly a key figure in the Salford side as they look to overturn their recent six point deduction for salary cap breaches.
St Helens – Jonny Lomax
To say Jonny Lomax has battled his way back from adversity would be an understatement after the 25-year-old almost became the forgotten man of rugby league after a torrid run of injuries.
After being struck down by a series of serious knee troubles requiring reconstruction Lomax is now back in action and making up for lost time.
His timely return after nearly a year out came in their recent 38-34 win over Leeds Rhinos in which he grabbed a brace before going onto get another try against Castleford Tigers the week after.
Wakefield Wildcats – Tom Johnstone
Tom Johnstone burst onto the rugby league scene last season and has picked up from where he left on with some scintillating performances for Wakefield Wildcats.
The academy product was subject to a bid from another rival Super League club which the Wildcats rebuffed with the 20-year-old going onto sign a four-year-deal in December 2015 highlighting his potential and importance they see in him.
Already the livewire has eight tries to his name including a try of the season contender against Huddersfield Giants weaving past five defenders in a full length of the field effort.
Warrington Wolves – Kurt Gidley
I picked out Kurt Gidley as one to watch at the start of the season and he, along with Chris Sandow, have been instrumental in Warrington’s rise up the league. Currently occupying top spot, Wire have picked up ten wins from their 13 fixtures with Gidley virtually an ever-present.
Signing a new one-year-deal recently, Gidley brings to the table a wealth of experience and the range of his kicking game is a major factor in Warrington seeing out games.
With Chris Sandow spending time on the sidelines it’ll be upto the former Newcastle Knight to guide the Wolves around the park.
Widnes Vikings – Corey Thompson
Widnes Vikings were leading Super League at one point and one player who has been a revelation since he signed for the club is Corey Thompson. Signed from Canterbury Bulldogs, where he was a NRL Grand Finalist, the 25-year-old has took to the English code with ease.
A hat-trick on his home debut against Leeds Rhinos in their stunning 56-12 victory along with a run of three consecutive braces have seen the winger reach 13 tries in the league.
Such form hasn’t gone unnoticed with his nomination for the February Player of the Month, and if Widnes are to claim the spoils today put your money on Thompson to get on the scoresheet.
Wigan Warriors – John Bateman
Wigan Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan labelled John Bateman “one of the finest talents in the English game” and it’s hard to disagree with him. Bateman, who at the tender age of 22, has already captained his Warriors side this year.
Busting 60 tackles and scoring six tries for the Cherry and Whites along with 195 carries shows that Bateman is ready to lead from the front.
The NRL will surely be circling around the England international and if Wigan are to establish dominance over the rest of the league they need to hold onto one of their prized assets.
Published on May 9 2016 for Rugby AM.