3rd October 2017, 08:12 | Castleford

Hardaker backs Gale to be Man of Steel

Hardaker backs Gale to be Man of Steel

Luke Gale deserves to be named Man of Steel, according to his closest rival for the prestigious award.

The Castleford Tigers and England scrum-half is vying with his club-mate Zak Hardaker and Hull FC stand-off Albert Kelly for the Steve Prescott award, which will be announced on Tuesday night at the annual Man of Steel dinner in Manchester.

Hardaker, who will face his old club Leeds Rhinos in Saturday's Betfred Super League Grand Final, has the chance to win the award for the second time after claiming it in 2015.

He has been nominated after rediscovering his best form this year but believes Gale would be a more worthy recipient after breaking the club record for points in a season - before being forced onto the sidelines for a fortnight with appendicitis.

"I've not really thought about it," Hardaker said. "I've been mentally drained since Thursday.

"It would be outstanding, I just feel Luke Gale is the Man of Steel this year, that's my personal point of view.

"The appendix story added a bit more to it but he's been tremendous, probably our most influential player. I feel he deserves it."

Gale has already been named the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters' Association player of the year but is not taking anything for granted.

"I'm honoured just to make the shortlist," he said. "It's something I've not really thought about, although I know it's tomorrow night. If I win, then fantastic. If Zak wins, then I'll be the first to shake his hand."

Gale made his playing comeback, just 16 days after having his appendix out, in Castleford's 23-22 win over St Helens in the first semi-final last Thursday, when he landed the all-important drop goal in extra time.

He was mobbed by his jubilant team-mates, blissfully unaware of the damage they might have inflicted on their team-mate's stomach.

"That was probably the best test," Gale said. "I was saying 'get off me' but they weren't listening.

"There were two keyholes and a cut underneath my belly button. There were a couple of stitches in there but it was the stitches in the muscle wall that they didn't want to come open.

"But I got through the game unscathed and there's no pain whatsoever, so I'm A1 for Saturday. It's pretty remarkable really."