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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 22:23 GMT 23:23 UK
Farrell deserves accolade
By Phil Harlow

The decision to crown Andy Farrell as Man of Steel may have come as a surprise to some.

Players like Lesley Vainikolo and Danny McGuire have enjoyed incredible seasons, both smashing Super League's try-scoring records on the way to helping their teams to the Grand Final.

Then there's Gareth Ellis, who continues to blossom as a player and was a key figure in Wakefield's resurgence.

Sure, Wigan have experienced some success, reaching the Challenge Cup final as well as coming within 80 minutes of the Grand Final, but they have ended the season without a trophy.

However without the immense Farrell in their ranks, it is unlikely that an average Warriors side would have done as well.

Farrell's reliability and longevity - he made his Wigan debut as a 16-year-old back in 1991 - make it easy to overlook the massive contribution he has made to the sport.

The fact that he last won the award back in 1996, the first year of Super League, speaks volumes about his ability to produce the goods on a consistent basis.

The 29-year-old loose-forward may not always catch the eye in the same way as the side-stepping McGuire or the bull-dozing Vainikolo, but his week-in, week-out excellence make him a player that any coach would want in his side.

His powers of inspiration are also the reason he continues to be an automatic choice for the Great Britain captaincy despite the strong claims of Paul Sculthorpe.

As a player, Farrell has an uncanny knack for almost always doing the right thing.

2004: Andy Farrell
2003: Jamie Peacock
2002: Paul Sculthorpe
2001: Paul Sculthorpe
2000: Sean Long
1999: Adrian Vowles
1998: Iestyn Harris
1997: James Lowes
1996: Andy Farrell
1995: Denis Betts

Not even a broken nose or his dodgy knees seem to faze him.

When he bust his hooter in the first half of a game against Leeds in June, he chose to play on rather than retreat to the safety of the stands.

And, with bandage in place, he helped inflict a rare defeat on the Rhinos.

It is that desire, hunger - call it what you will - that marks Farrell out from the rest of the crowd.

If ever a man deserved the title Man of Steel, it is him.

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