Ahead of the members vote for the Sports Journalists’ Association British Sports Awards, we asked members of the SJA Academy to make their case for contenders to win sportsman, sportswoman and team of the year. CAMERON STEPHENS with the case for Super League winners St Helens, now heading for the World Club Challenge against Penrith next year.
There was an air of inevitability that enveloped the 60,783 people that packed into Old Trafford just two minutes into the Super League Grand Final on September 24th 2022.
As Saints prop Matty Lees crashed over to score the quickest-ever try in a Grand Final, those in attendance, as well as those watching at home, were quickly reminded that they were watching the most dominant franchise in the history of English rugby league.
The Saints went on to put away Leeds in comfortable fashion on that day, solidifying their position as England’s most successful club, becoming the first to lift ten Super League trophies.
Amongst that historic run, this year saw St Helens become the first-ever club to win four consecutive Super League titles.
As club captain James Roby hoisted up the Super League trophy, it was a perfect depiction of yet another dominant St Helens run and it put the final stamp on a remarkable season for the Red V.
On their way to the big dance, the Red V lost just six of their 27 league games and more impressively, dropped points in just one of their home league games at Totally Wicked stadium.
The Saints started 2022 in rampant fashion as they won ten of their first 11 games, a run which included five successive wins to begin the season.
That rich vain of form was a sign of things to come as they went on to concede the fewest points of any club in the Super League on their way to securing the number one seed going into the playoffs.
Statement wins were littered throughout the season; the 54-point drubbing of Hull FC, a last-gasp victory of second-place Wigan Warriors and the early season demolition of Leeds being the standouts.
As the pointy end of the season rolled around, St Helens were the undisputed favourites to take care of business going into the playoffs.
Despite the pressure of owning the favourites tag, the experience and resilience of the squad shone through in their semi-final win against Salford, a win that paved the way for the record-breaking Grand Final victory.
Head coach Kristian Woolf described his historic side by saying: “These boys play at a different intensity to the rest of the competition, and they don’t get enough credit for what they do.”
For a sport in which dynasties are few and far between, Woolf’s side once again proved why they are the best side of the Super League era and should be a part of the coveted conversation as the best team in the UK for 2022.
Full members can vote here for their full choice.