At the end of every game, journalists are quick to get important people in front of cameras to ask the big questions following the latest chapter of rugby league’s ever-changing story. What’s said in these post-match interviews often become great stories of their own and can even adorn the great contest which went on before.
Some are even moving as players recognise the emotional journeys they’ve been on to get to where they are today. So, with all that in mind here’s 10 of the best post-match interviews we’ve seen in Super League.
Brian McDermott 2013
On Easter Monday in 2013, Leeds claimed a huge win away in France at the expense of Catalans. The 27-12 triumph saw the Rhinos demonstrate huge guts as the Champions claimed the victory despite having Ryan Bailey sent off with a huge chunk of the game yet to be played. It was only Leeds’ second league win away at Catalans since 2008 and was a major scalp. However, after the game Brian McDermott wasn’t entirely pleased believing that Catalans always receive a massive advantage when playing at home noting how the Dragons had been awarded the most penalties in the league in 2011 and 2012. He the said: “I think that’s the big issue when you come to Catalans. That’s just plain and simple for whatever reason, I think I’ve got my own ideas why they get awarded a lot of penalties.” As he said this, he repeatedly turned to the stand behind him comically drawing attention to the Dragons’ supporters suggesting that they were the reason. He then concluded with the line: “To be consistently awarded penalties when they play at home, I think that would need addressing.”
Kevin Sinfield 2009
A few years earlier it was the Leeds captain making headlines for what he said post-match but for very different reasons. In 2009, Kevin Sinfield led Leeds to an unprecedented third consecutive Grand Final triumph – an unlikely achievement in a salary capped sport and one built on the back of friendships forged in Leeds’ academy set up. Expressing the pride he felt that day, Sinfield began to tear up as he and his teammates’ decisions to reject moves were fully vindicated. He told Sky Sports: “I’ve said it before but people might not know, in a salary capped sport to keep the guys we have is great management from Gary [Hetherington] and Bluey [Brian McClennan] and everyone who’s played a part but these guys I play with they’re a special group. They could go to any team in the game and earn more money but they’re prepared to sacrifice a few extra quid to have memories like this and play for this great club.”
Mike Rush 2012
“There goes my family holiday to Florida.” That’s how Mike Rush finished his St Helens press conference after they’d lost by a point to Wakefield in 2012. A topsy turvy game was won late on by a Paul Sykes drop goal as Wakefield’s play-off hopes were given a major boost by the 33-32 win. However, Rush, who had stepped up in charge of the Saints following the departure of Royce Simmons, felt that the game might have gone differently if there had been a different referee in charge. He claimed that Thierry Alibert’s officiating had resulted in a hectic game with no control and ultimately led to their defeat. He said: “I’m going to be controversial here so get your pen and paper ready. He kills us. Every time we’ve had Thierry Alibert this year, we’ve ended up in a game like that. It’s gone tit for tat, lacks control for me. I appreciate, I’m probably going to get in trouble for it, every single time we have this fella he absolutely hammers the game.”
Toby King 2021
Over the last two seasons, Warrington players have earnt a reputation for producing the liveliest and funniest post-match interviews on Sky Sports with Jenna Brooks. In 2021, Toby King got in on the act as he explained why he’d chosen to stay at Warrington despite reported interest from Hull KR and St Helens. He told Sky Sports: “I’ve been here since I was a young boy and Stu and Simon kindly gave us a book and it said ‘140 years of Wire.’ How long have Warrington been in existence? 146 years so there’s six years missing. So that would take me to 13 years at the club and I reckon 9.3% I would’ve played a part in the history.” Few players produce that level of maths in post-match interviews and few know the history of their clubs quite in the way King demonstrated here in a bubbly interview after his 100th Super League appearance against Salford.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) May 27, 2021
Kevin Sinfield 2011
A legend of the game, Kevin Sinfield has shown the whole world the kind of man he is in his fundraising to help fight MND over the last two years and support former teammate Rob Burrow. In doing so, he’s demonstrated great character, leadership and a willingness to never give up even running 101 miles in 24 hours. But for those who followed Sinfield’s career had seen those qualities during his 13 seasons as captain of Leeds Rhinos and every time he spoke about his teammates. After Leeds had won the 2011 Grand Final coming from 5th to do so after thumping defeats to Warrington and St Helens during the regular season, an embarrassment at Catalans, two losses to 12th placed Harlequins and Challenge Cup heartache, Sinfield was keen to stress that no one should’ve written his teammates off despite the lows of the season. Before lifting the trophy, Sinfield said: “To all those people that wrote this team off, to all those people that criticised this team, tonight’s for you.”
Paul Wellens 2014
From one captain at the highest point of the season to one at their lowest, Paul Wellens felt obliged to address what he believed was a disappointing performance in their 41-24 Magic Weekend defeat to Warrington, claiming it wasn’t good enough for a side hoping to end an 8-year wait for the title. He told Sky Sports after the loss: “I have to watch what I say here because that was embarrassing from us that. I think as a group we had that start to the season, everyone talks about how good you’re playing but for me we were only good for four or five weeks. If you want to win a competition, if you want to get to the play-offs, you want to achieve the ambitions we’ve set ourselves this year then you’ve got to turn up every week with the right attitude.” What he said clearly worked because at the end of the year he was lifting the Super League title.
Jake Mamo 2020
No player has the same kind or reputation as Jake Mamo does when it comes to speaking in front of the Sky cameras after a game with some of the bubbliest and funniest interviews rugby league has ever seen. In 2020, one particular interview from the outside back caught the eyes and ears as Mamo was awarded the Man of the Match after a win over Catalans who he described in an interesting way: “They’re a pretty tough side, they’re quite aggressive. There were a fair few eye scrapes on me so I had a chat with the ref there and he sorted me out with a few of those high tackles there gave me a penalty.” He then stated that the persistent knocks on the head had him considering retirement: “I’m think of retiring early. I’m just getting hit in the head so often because I’m quite small. The refs should watch that, that’d be nice.” He also threw some stick the way of his teammate Blake Austin in a funny moment: “I had a chat with Blake before the match actually and there’s been a couple of games lately when I think they’ve just given him Man of the Match because obviously he’s big star Blake Austin and he said if he got it tonight he was going to pass it on to me but instead I just sent him back into the sheds early.” He even had time to talk about how Austin had helped his game evolve: “Again me and Blake have been chatting a lot lately. I’ve really matured, I turned 26 a few months ago and since then I’ve had a lot calmer head as you saw tonight there were a couple of times I probably could’ve lost my s**t but I kept it together.” He was of course told off for using profanity on air but then apologised claiming it was accidental and that he was simply “chuffed.”
Jake Mamo 2021
A year later and Mamo was again making waves with a typically energetic interview on Sky following a hat-trick against Wigan and persisted to tell the world about the mentality change taking place at Warrington thanks to the positive reinforcement crew: “We’ve got a good group of friends here, we’ve got a little group and it started off as a bit of a joke. They call us the PRC. There’s myself, Tommy Lineham, Matt Davis, Joe Philbin, Toby King no doubt and Robbie Mulhern is a new recruit. It started as a bit of a joke. People called us the positive reinforcement crew. But now that has infected the entire team and since then people are actually trying to join our group. But it’s quite a rigorous process to join our group, there’s an application form and you go through the board members and we’ve got to agree on who’s a member and there’s a couple of boys who want to get on board especially our trainer Chris ‘bubble’ Baron. He’s sent in his application form and it’s being reviewed currently and we might give him access soon.” It’s safe to say this interview was like nothing Super League had ever seen before.
Kevin Naiqama 2021
From an interview that was fun to watch, to one that was moving to watch. In the 2021 Grand Final Kevin Naiqama’s time at St Helens came to an end as his two tries gave St Helens a third consecutive title and saw him awarded the Harry Sunderland Award as Man of the Match. The award was presented to him in front of Sky Sports cameras by two-time winner of the award Rob Burrow on the back of two years battling with Motor Neurone Disease. His interview up until this point had already been emotional as he thanked the town of St Helens and put his Christian faith out there for all to see as he shed tears but then, as Burrow’s daughter handed him the award, the emotion went into overdrive as Naiqama thanked the Leeds legend: “Thank you for everything you’ve done in the game, we really appreciate you. You’re a true legend and I am so grateful for this award. Thank you so much you are an absolute legend of the game. I appreciate everything you’ve done mate.”
The most heartwarming interview you will ever see
Kevin Naiqama, 2021 Harry Sunderland Trophy winner 🏆
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) October 9, 2021
Rob Burrow 2020
The interviews after the game between Leeds and Bradford in January 2020 could’ve filled out this list themselves as the likes of Jamie Peacock, Danny McGuire and others spoke about the character of Rob Burrow. But Burrow’s own post-match interview, his last, is perhaps the most moving post-match interview the sport of rugby league has seen. Alongside his three children, Burrow simply felt the need to thank everyone for their support as he took on his toughest challenge – battling MND: “It’s overwhelming. I can’t believe the turnout today, it’s overwhelming, humbling. I’m forever grateful. I only hope they know I’d do the same for them.” If that’s not enough to make you well up then the moment Brian Carney speaks to Rob’s children certainly will especially when he says: “Listen, go out there and wave to everybody because they’ve come here to see your dad and you know your dad is a very special man.” A very special man he is indeed and seeing him talk about the challenge ahead is simply so emotional, so emotional that Burrow’s former teammate and usually talkative Barrie McDermott was rendered speechless.