St Helens, favourites for Saturday's Super League Grand Final, have underlined their domination of the domestic season with a clean sweep of the game's major individual awards.
Saints' Great Britain full-back, Paul Wellens, was named last night as Man of Steel. His team, who meet Hull at Old Trafford, also have the Young Player of the Year in the forward, James Graham, who is also in Great Britain's squad for the Tri-Nations this autumn.
Another Saint, James Roby, was on the shortlist for that award, along with Wigan's full-back Chris Ashton. Daniel Anderson is Coach of the Year, having steered Saints to the Challenge Cup, the League Leaders' Trophy and the Grand Final in his first full season.
He held off Karl Harrison, who guided Salford to fifth in Super League and into the play-offs for the first time, and Brian Noble, who led Wigan to safety as well as winning the World Club Challenge with Bradford.
The advance guard of Noble's Great Britain squad, minus the players involved in the Grand Final, flies out to Sydney today to prepare for the friendly against a Newcastle XIII on 20 October. The 18-man party, which will be augmented by the Australian-based Brian Carney and Adrian Morley, includes Salford's Andy Coley, who has been promoted from the stand-by squad in place of Paul Johnson, who has been ruled out with an ankle injury.
Warrington's Ben Westwood and Paul King of Hull, have also been drafted into the stand-by squad for the injured Stephen Wild and Andy Lynch. New Zealand, who begin their defenceagainst Australia this Saturday, will be without David Solomona for the tournament. The Wakefield forward has an arm injury.
Promoted Hull KR will begin their recruitment for Super League this week, with their coach, Justin Morgan, admitting that they need to expand their squad. "We most probably need 10 to 12 signings," he said.
Two players being linked with Rovers are the scrum-half at relegated Castleford, Danny Brough, and the Parramatta prop, Fui Fui Moi Moi. Cas' second-rower, Willie Manu, has joined Hull on a two-year deal.
Both Hull's Horne brothers, Richard and Graeme, will be fit for the Grand Final after minor injuries.
Warrington's Kiwi forward, Logan Swann, is to rejoin the New Zealand Warriors on a one-year contract, while Toa Kohe-Love, Mark Hilton, Danny Lima and Paul Noone have all been released by the Wolves. Shane Millard is expected to join Wigan after being released by Leeds.
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