Salford’s Australian playmaker Jackson Hastings has been crowned Betfred Super League’s Steve Prescott Man of Steel for 2019.
The 23-year-old half-back, who has played a key role in the Red Devils’ march to a maiden Grand Final, was unveiled on Sunday at the climax to a new-look Super League awards night at the Lowry Theatre in Salford.
Hastings, who is the first Salford winner of an award that was first presented in 1977, was selected through a new system based on points awarded on a weekly basis by a specially-chosen panel of former players.
He was level with Warrington stand-off Blake Austin when the votes were closed off to the public after round 22 and he went on to produce a strong end to the season to help Salford claim a third-place finish.
Also on the five-man short list were Lachlan Coote (St Helens), Liam Watts (Castleford) and George Williams (Wigan).
The prestigious award completes a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the former Sydney Roosters and Manly player, who arrived in England under a cloud in July 2018 following a series of off-field issues.
Hastings turned around his life in such spectacular fashion that he quickly became a much sought-after player and he will join Wigan on a two-year contract after Saturday’s Grand Final against St Helens.
Hastings’ boss Ian Watson lost out in the quest to be named coach of the year to Justin Holbrook, who guided St Helens to the League Leaders’ Shield for the second-successive season and will be hoping to bow out with the title at Old Trafford as he prepares to return to the NRL with Gold Coast Titans.
Saints, who finished a record 16 points ahead of their nearest rivals Wigan, also provided the young player of the year in forward Matty Lees, who got the nod ahead of Jake Trueman (Castleford) and Morgan Smithies (Wigan).
The Telegraph Woman of Steel award went to Leeds half-back Courtney Hill, an Australian former cricketer who topped a poll of votes by her fellow players.
Warrington were named foundation of the year in recognition of the work carried out in the community and across Physical Disability Rugby League and Learning Disability Super League.
Hastings, who was the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters’ Association player of the year, was named top entertainer in a fans vote, while the Ward Hadaway Spirit of Super League award was presented to Leeds forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan as recognition of his sportsmanship and respect from his peers.
Trophies were also presented to leading try-scorer Tommy Makinson (St Helens) and top tackler Danny Houghton (Hull FC), who won the award for the fifth time.