General ESL Awards

The 22 BEAST_old


ormer Wests Tigers star Pat Richards has won English rugby league's top individual award, The Man of Steel.

The prolific goalkicking winger capped a sweep of the Super League awards for Wigan at the dinner in Manchester.

Wigan's Michael Maguire won the coach of the year award in his first season and five-eighth or fullback Sam Tomkins was named young player of the year for the second year in a row.

The Warriors were also named club of the year.

Richards, 28, was judged to have made the biggest impact on the season, beating Tomkins and Warrington captain Adrian Morley, who was short-listed for the second successive season, in a secret poll of fellow players.

Only the fifth Australian to be crowned Man of Steel since the award was introduced in 1977, Richards succeeds countryman and fellow ex-Tiger Brett Hodgson, the Huddersfield fullback.

Richards, who was named the Rugby League Writers' Association player of the year earlier this month, was instrumental in helping Wigan to their best season for 10 years.

A member of the Tigers' 2005 NRL grand final-winning team, Richards scored 29 tries, kicked 135 points and amassed 388 points for Wigan this year, topping all three scoring charts and equalling the Super League record set by former Warriors captain Andy Farrell.

Only two players have made more metres than the Australian winger, who is also joint top for clean breaks.

Special awards to mark their final seasons in Super League were made to St Helens captain Keiron Cunningham, Salford skipper Malcolm Alker and Wakefield captain Jason Demetriou.

BBC commentator Ray French was awarded the Mike Gregory Spirit of Rugby League Award to mark his contribution to the game and Sky Sports executive producer Neville Smith was inducted as a guest onto the RFL Roll of Honour.

Pat Richards has been in great form all year and deserves the top award.

Well done Pat