Sam Tomkins named Man of Steel
Winning the prestigious Man of Steel award cushioned the blow of failing to reach the Super League Grand Final for Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins.
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The 23-year-old England international, twice a winner of the Young Player of the Year award, received the top prize from Olympic gold medallist and Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins at an awards ceremony in Manchester on Monday night.
Tomkins won the award ahead of St Helens hooker James Roby and Warrington second-row forward Ben Westwood in a secret ballot of his fellow Super League players. Former England captain Jamie Peacock revealed on his Twitter account that Tomkins got his vote.
"It feels a bit surreal," Tomkins said. "It's a massive honour. There were some great players nominated. Ben Westwood has been outstanding as James Roby is every single year.
"It was an honour to be nominated and to pick it up is pretty special. You always want to impress your peers and there are some big names who have publicly voted for me.
"When someone of the stature of Jamie Peacock, who is a living legend of the game, says he voted for you it's humbling.
"I'd swap it for a Grand Final appearance if I'm honest but it makes it a little bit easier."
Tomkins missed last Friday's semi-final defeat by Leeds with a knee injury sustained in Wigan's opening play-off win over Catalan Dragons but is confident of recovering in time for England's autumn internationals against Wales and France.
The 23-year-old is expected to be named in England coach Steve McNamara's 24-man squad for a 10-day training camp in South Africa when it is announced on Tuesday morning.
"It's not too bad," Tomkins said of his injury. "I'm working on it at the moment. I want to get it right for the England games."
Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker is also tipped for a call-up after being named young player of the year.
The 20-year-old former Featherstone player will cap a hugely impressive first full season in Super League by completing an ever-present record in Saturday's Grand Final against Warrington.
Hardaker was chosen by a specially-convened panel ahead of Bradford second-rower John Bateman and St Helens centre Josh Jones, the others on the shortlist.
Mick Potter's dedication to Bradford was recognised when he was voted Super League coach of the year by his fellow coaches.
The Australian stayed on at Odsal in a voluntary capacity after being made redundant in July and would have taken the Bulls to the play-offs for the first time in four years had the club not been docked six points for going into administration.
New Bradford head coach Francis Cummins received the award on behalf of Potter, who has returned home to Australia to seek a new job after turning down the offer of a new contract.
Wigan were named club of the year and Peacock won the Mike Gregory Spirit of Rugby League award for services to the game.