The Man of Steel award - renamed the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award in 2014 - is the greatest achievement for an individual in Rugby League. It is a vote for the most influential player of that calendar year and it is voted for by fellow players. Luke Gale took home the crown in 2017 after a superb season with the Castleford Tigers, but just who should be in the reckoning for 2018?

John Bateman

In his last season with Wigan, before he heads Down Under to join Canberra Raiders, John Bateman has excelled in every department. He has not only been one of Wigan's most consistent and durable defenders, but he has also been a potent threat in attack, making the hard yards and offering a skilful outlet out wide.

Since moving to Wigan from Bradford in November 2013 - for a reported £70,000 - Bateman has improved with every passing season. And, after making his debut for England in 2015 aged just 22, the back-rower/centre has registered 12 appearances for his national side, scoring five tries.

It is 2018 where Bateman has grown into a reliable and ever-present forward for Wigan; when the Warriors went through a mid-season slump, Bateman was still there impressing each week and inspiring those around him to up their games too. As Super League's leading offload specialist with 57, Bateman has consistently got Wigan on the front foot and has established himself as one of the toughest competitors in the league.

Paul McShane

How Paul McShane has not even been within a sniff of England selection is baffling. The livewire hooker has been at the heart of everything that Castleford have done well in 2018; without their talismanic duo of Luke Gale and Ben Roberts, McShane has taken the leadership role by the scruff of the neck, guiding his Castleford teammates around the field like very few hookers in the game.

The diminutive figure has made the most tackles in the top flight as well as the top marker tackles and even boasts a 40/20 and eight tries to his name - the highest try-scoring figure in his career.

Paul McShane has everything that a coach wants in a Rugby League player; he is skilful, aggressive, communicative and tough and has been Castleford's standout player by a country mile in 2018.

The No.9 is so often overlooked in favour of other hookers such as James Roby and Daryl Clark, but the way in which McShane has matured so greatly in 2018 and has been the lynchpin for the Tigers, he is surely deserved to be on that three-man shortlist.

James Roby

James Roby seems to have found another gear in 2018; the St Helens man has made the most runs from dummy half in Super League and this is one of the main reasons why the Saints have destroyed so many teams around the ruck this season. Coach Justin Holbrook has given the 2007 Man of Steel a new lease of life and, despite being 32 years of age, Roby has taken his game to the next level with the appointment of captain for 2018 seemingly spurring him on to greater things.

St Helens have been far and away the best team in Super League in 2018 and James Roby has been key to their exploits. And, Roby is bound to be instrumental in the business end of the season as the Saints aim to rack up a sixth Grand Final title. Rarely has a Super League player bounced back to the form of his early career like Roby and this turnaround may well influence the decision-making.

Remi Casty

Now aged 33 and in the twilight of his career, Remi Casty has shown that the phrase "wine gets better with age" can also be true of Rugby League players. After nearly a decade in Super League with the Catalans Dragons, the French prop has arguably had his greatest season to date, playing an instrumental role as the Dragons lifted the Challenge Cup for the first time in their history.

His form has been so good that the French club gave him another two-year contract extension in June of this year. At 6ft and over 100kg, Casty is an intimidating front-rower, but he has also been a superb leader for the Catalans in 2018.

England, Australia, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand and Ireland have all had representatives that have won the Man of Steel award, but the French have had none. 2018 could well be the year that this statistic changes.

Daryl Clark

Another No.9 on the list, but yet another that is equally as deserving to be there. Like James Roby under Justin Holbrook, Daryl Clark has enjoyed a new lease of life under new Warrington boss Steve Price. Clark has returned to the form that saw him win both the Man of Steel and the Young Player of the Year in 2014; he is the highest metre-maker for his Warrington side and played a vital role in the Wolves' Challenge Cup run that ended in defeat at Wembley. If Warrington gets to Old Trafford in October, Clark will likely be at the forefront of their success.