Five-eighth Brodie Croft has paid tribute to Salford for helping him regain his love of the sport after being named the best player in Super League in 2022.
The 25-year-old Australian has enjoyed a new lease of life since joining the Red Devils at the start of the season and his remarkable exploits were recognised when he was crowned the Steve Prescott Man of Steel.
“I’m truly honoured and humbled,” the former NRL star told the audience at a glittering awards ceremony in Leeds on Tuesday night.
“It’s a reflection of the people that I’ve been surrounded by this year … and the Salford club for giving me a chance.
“I’ve loved this year so much, I didn’t want it to end.”
The Man of Steel award represents a dramatic change of fortunes for Croft, the former Melbourne player who dropped out of favour at Brisbane and subsequently fell out of love with the game.
Salford took a punt and, after a slow start to his career in England, Croft blossomed and his blazing finish to the campaign not only took his unfancied club into the play-offs but enabled him to pip St Helens utility back Jack Welsby and Wigan fullback, and fellow Aussie, Jai Field for the competition’s highest individual award.
“The journey I’ve been on this year has been unbelievable,” said Croft, whose parents were in the audience at Headingley.
“It’s been a tough couple of years but Salford gave me a chance and the coaching staff had so much belief in me.
“It helped me grow as a player this year to an extent I probably didn’t think I was capable of.
“I had lost a bit of that enjoyment for rugby league, which is tough because that’s why we play it as a kid – you don’t think of it as a job or a chore, you think of it as something you love doing.
“The club embraced me and I can’t thank them enough.”
Croft has emulated the achievement of another Australian halfback, Jackson Hastings, who won the Man of Steel in his first full season with Salford and went on to play for Wigan before returning to the NRL with Wests.
Croft, whose dazzling form has attracted interest from the NRL, is contracted to Salford for 2023 and expressed an interest in extending his stay.
“I certainly love it here,” he said. “It’s a really special group of boys and I love what the coaching staff are about.