Graham earns Man of Steel honour

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The Independent Online

James Graham has crowned an unforgettable season by being named as Man of Steel. The 22-year-old St Helens prop, already the Rugby League Writers' Player of the Year, received the game's leading individual honour at a ceremony in Manchester last night.

The award was decided for the first time by players' votes, with Graham edging out his team-mate, Leon Pryce, and Leeds' Jamie Peacock, whom he will face in the Super League Grand Final on Saturday. Leeds' Lee Smith has been cleared to play in that game having avoided a suspension after being found guilty of reckless striking with the foot.

Saints also had the Community Player of the Year in the recently-retired Mike Bennett, a tribute to his work in local schools, while Mick Potter, who takes over from Daniel Anderson next season, was named Coach of the Year for his success with the Catalan Dragons. Joe Westerman of Castleford was selected as Young Player of the Year and a new honour, the Spirit of Rugby League, was awarded posthumously to the former Great Britain captain, Mike Gregory, who died last November.

Semi Tadulala has agreed to stay for another season at Bradford. The Fijian World Cup winger joined the Bulls from Wakefield earlier this year. Wigan's reserve winger, Sam Reay, has joined Leigh on a one-year deal.

Castleford have released the Australian prop, Michael Korkidas, from the second year of his contract. He is now free to join Huddersfield.

The Welsh coach, John Dixon, has named four possible new caps in the squad to face England at Doncaster on 10 October. Geraint Davies, Lee Williams and Ben Flower are all under Dixon's wing at the Celtic Crusaders, while Rhys Williams, an 18-year-old from Rhyl, is on Warrington's books. There are three Bradford players in the squad – Craig Kopczak, Dave Halley and Matt James.

Fans picketed Wakefield Town Hall yesterday in protest against the council's rejection of plans for a new stadium for the city's rugby league club. The council promised afterwards to help the Wildcats pursue alternative arrangements.

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