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Page last updated at 06:30 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 07:30 UK

Graham scoops Man of Steel award

James Graham
Graham will be a key figure for England in the forthcoming World Cup

England prop James Graham has been named the 2008 Super League Man of Steel, becoming the fourth successive St Helens player to claim the award.

The 23-year-old beat off competition from team-mate Leon Pryce and Jamie Peacock of Leeds, who Saints face in Saturday's Grant Final at Old Trafford.

Graham has been instrumental in Saints' bid for a domestic whitewash.

Catalans Dragons' coach Mick Potter, who will replace outgoing Saints coach Daniel Anderson, is coach of the year.

The Australian leaves the Perpignan-based club after guiding them to an impressive third-place finish.

Graham, who was recently voted as player of the year by the Rugby League Writers' Association, received his trophy and a cheque for 5000 at a gala dinner in Manchester.

"I feel a bit embarrassed, a bit of an impostor," said Graham, who was also the player who made the most metres - 3935 - with ball in hand this season.

"It's about the team for me. I'd swap it for the Super League trophy."

He becomes the seventh St Helens player to be crowned Man of Steel in the last nine years, emulating the feat of James Roby, Paul Wellens, Jamie Lyon, Sean Long and back-to-back winner Paul Sculthorpe.

The 2006 Super League young player of the year came into the side when Anderson lost both first-choice starting props Jason Cayless and Nick Fozzard through injury.

"It's fantastic news for James," said Anderson, who returns to Australia after the Grand Final. "To do what he's done this year is exceptional. He's been tremendous for us."

This was the first year the Man of Steel award has been decided by the votes of Super League players.

Since scoring twice on his debut for Great Britain against New Zealand two years ago, Graham has yet to appear on the losing side for his country and promises to be a key figure for England in the World Cup.

Castleford loose forward Joe Westerman, 18, who is also in England's World Cup squad, was named young player of the year, beating off competition from Joel Tomkins (Wigan) and Leroy Cudjoe (Huddersfield).

Hull KR were named club of the year in recognition of their outstanding development across the board and St Helens' recently-retired forward Mike Bennett won the community player of the year.

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see also
St Helens 38-10 Leeds
19 Sep 08 |  Rugby League
Saints and Leeds head Dream Team
16 Sep 08 |  Rugby League
Roby scoops Man of Steel accolade
08 Oct 07 |  Rugby League
Wellens wins Man of Steel award
09 Oct 06 |  My Club
Lyon picks up Man of Steel award
10 Oct 05 |  My Club

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