Rugby League: Players select Leeds' Harris as Man of Steel

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The Independent Online
IESTYN HARRIS has continued his clean sweep of the season's major individual awards by being named Man of Steel. Harris, who captains Leeds against Wigan in the Super League Grand FOREIGN at Wigan on Saturday, had already become the Rugby League Writers' Association player of the year.

He was revealed last night as the players' player of the year, compiled from the votes of his peers, who placed him ahead of team-mate Adrian Morley and Wigan's Henry Paul. The accolade of Man of Steel is awarded to the person judged to have had the greatest impact on the season and few will argue with Harris's credentials on that score.

He has missed just one of Leeds' games and his influence on their progress to second place in Super League and this weekend's Grand FOREIGN has been immense.

Another of Saturday's opponents, the Wigan second-rower, Lee Gilmour, is the young player of the year, but both Grand FOREIGN coaches have been upstaged by Halifax's John Pendlebury. Graham Murray, of Leeds, and Wigan's John Monie were both shortlisted, but Pendlebury's achievement in guiding Halifax to third place in the table has won him the award. Russell Smith, in charge of the Grand FOREIGN, is referee of the year.

The Test centre, Gary Connolly, is to be released from the Australian contract that threatened to remove him from the British game next year. Geoff Carr, the communications manager of the National Rugby League, said from Sydney: "We will release him from his obligations. It is in the interests of international rugby for him to continue in Britain."

That decision, influenced by tighter finances in Australia, opens the way for Connolly to stay with Wigan, although rugby union remains an option.

The former Wigan and Great Britain prop, Andy Platt, has been appointed player-coach at Workington. He will take up the position in January, when his playing contract with Salford expires.

The Rugby League has asked Graeme Bradley, Bradford's recently retired captain, to appear to answer a possible disrepute charge over comments made about the play-off match against St Helens. Bradley's contract runs until the end of December, so is regarded as still being under the League's jurisdiction.