Betfred Super League Dream Team: Six Tigers & eight new faces
Last Updated: 26/09/17 8:12am
The 2017 Betfred Super League Dream Team has been announced, selected by a panel of broadcasters and journalists in a secret ballot, and it includes six Castleford players and eight newcomers in total.
Full-back Zak Hardaker and scrum-half Luke Gale, both on the shortlist for the 2017 Steve Prescott Man of Steel, are chosen for the third time and are joined by their Tigers team-mates Michael Shenton, Greg Eden, Mike McMeeken and Grant Millington.
Castleford won the league leaders' shield for the first time in the club's history, finishing 10 points clear of second-placed Leeds, and take on St Helens on Thursday for a place in their first Grand Final.
Gale, currently recovering following emergency appendix surgery, has broken the club's points-scoring record this season while Eden is Super League's runaway leading try-scorer in 2017 with 38 touchdowns, just two off the record set by his Castleford predecessor Denny Solomona 12 months ago.
There is also a place for Hull FC stand-off Albert Kelly, the other player in the running to be crowned Man of Steel after making a successful switch from Hull KR.
Kelly's statistics highlight a truly standout season as he has scored 19 tries and created 14 others so far. The 26-year-old has also put in the work in defence with 530 tackles across the course of the season.
Kelly's colleague Mahe Fonua is the other Hull FC man included and the Australian enjoys a spot in the team for the second season in a row.
This will be his last appearance in the Dream Team for a couple of years as he will be going back Down Under at the end of the season after signing a two-year-deal with Wests Tigers.
Second-rower Ben Murdoch-Masila is the first Salford player to appear since David Hodgson in 2006 while Wigan and England captain Sean O'Loughlin is selected in the dream team for a remarkable sixth time.
O'Loughlin's club debut was 15 years ago. He was first named in a Dream Team back in 2010 and surpassed 400 games for the Warriors earlier this season.
Mark Percival is another who has enjoyed a milestone outing this season after reaching a century of appearances for St Helens at the tender age of just 23.
With the quality of outings that he's delivered this season, from last-gasp tries to individual points hauls, it's no wonder that the 23-year-old was handed a four-year deal in April by the club he's been with since we was 12-year-old.
Matt Parcell has been a key figure for Leeds since arriving from the Manly Sea Eagles and has duly secured a place in this Dream Team at the first time of asking.
Parcell has been effective going forward having scored 17 tries and creating another 16 and in defence has excelled with a staggering 1018 tackles - a number that's only been topped by Ryan Hinchcliffe, Jon Wilkin and Danny Houghton.
Finally, Sebastine Ikahihifo is another making his first appearance in the dream team and it adds to an award-winning season for the prop.
Last week Ikahihifo walked home from his club's awards ceremony with four awards to his name including Players' Player of the Year, Supporters' Player of the Year and Coaches Player of the Year.
2017 Betfred Super League Dream Team: Zak Hardaker (Castleford); Greg Eden (Castleford), Michael Shenton (Castleford), Mark Percival (St Helens), Mahe Fonua (Hull FC); Albert Kelly (Hull FC), Luke Gale (Castleford); Grant Millington (Castleford), Matt Parcell (Leeds), Sebastine Ikahihifo (Huddersfield), Ben Murdoch-Masila (Salford), Mike McMeeken (Castleford), Sean O'Loughlin (Wigan).