4th October 2017, 14:04 | Castleford

Gale reflects on career after winning Man of Steel award

Gale reflects on career after winning Man of Steel award

Luke Gale reflected on the lows as his career reached a new high with his selection as Steve Prescott Man of Steel.

The 29-year-old Castleford Tigers and England half-back was presented with the prestigious award at the 2017 Man of Steel dinner in Manchester after topping a poll of Betfred Super League players.

His Tigers team-mate Zak Hardaker, Man of Steel from his time with Leeds in 2015, was runner-up, with Hull FC stand-off Albert Kelly a distant third.

Gale has smashed the Castleford record for most points in a season in helping the club lift the League Leaders' Shield for the first time in their 91-year history and on Saturday will be aiming to guide them to a first Grand Final triumph when they play his home-town club Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford.

After failing to make the breaththrough at Headingley, Gale took an unorthodox route to the top. He started off at Doncaster, where he became the National League Two young player of the year for 2008 after breaking the club's record for points in a season, before getting his big break with London Broncos and also played for Bradford Bulls before joining Castleford three years ago.

"I'm proud of the journey I've been on," he said. "I've had a few lows and a few highs on the way, probably more lows if I'm honest."

By a curious twist of fate, on Saturday Gale will go up against the man who gave him his Super League debut: Leeds coach Brian McDermott.

"I owe a lot to Brian," Gale said. "He was the one who initially believed in me.

"I progressed down at London. It kind of made me a man, moving out of my home at 19 and into a different world, it was tough to be honest but I loved every minute."

Castleford dominated the end-of-season prize-giving, with Daryl Powell pipping Wakefield Trinity's Chris Chester to the coach of the year award and the Tigers being named club of the year. Wigan Warriors centre Oliver Gildart prevented a clean sweep as he was named young player of the year.

Gale paid tribute to both Powell and the rest of his team-mates as he became the fourth Castleford player to be crowned Man of Steel, following in the footsteps of Adrian Vowles, Rangi Chase and Daryl Clark.

"Daryl has been outstanding," Gale added. "He hones in on your skills and sharpens you up.

"I've kind of matured as well. Half-backs do mature, the older you get the better you get because we don't play with our pace, we play with our brains. The older your brain gets, the wiser you become.

"Now we've got the best team in the comp and my job is steering them around. We've got class players throughout and I owe a lot to them."

Gale's next target for silverware is a Super League ring and, sure to be named in England coach Wayne Bennett's World Cup squad on Monday, he has the world at his feet.

"Someone asked me if I'd rather have a World Cup, a Man of Steel or a Super League ring," he said. "It's just a tough question.

"I'll tell you after I've got all three, see which feels best."