All-time Best Super League XIII: Bradford Bulls

In this series, we put together the ultimate Super League starting 13’s for each club that has seen at least five seasons in the competition.

Today it’s the turn of Bradford, so here’s who we think would make their ultimate Super League XIII…

1. Robbie Hunter-Paul

Paul was a revelation from the moment he arrived in West Yorkshire from New Zealand. He scored 109 tries in 219 Super League games for the Bulls, inspiring a star-studded side to four Super League titles, two Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges. Nicknamed the ‘Kiwi hot stepper’, Paul was one of the first to bring the Southern Hemisphere flair to the UK and has left a lasting legacy.

Robbie Paul.

Notable mentions: Michael Withers, Stuart Spruce, Brett Kearney

2. Tevita Vaikona

Vaikona signed from Hull in 1998 and turned out to be one of the shrewdest pieces of business the Bulls would ever do. The Tongan was an instant hit and would soon become one half of the most dominant wing pairing Super League had ever seen alongside Lesley Vainikolo. He scored 90 tries in over 140 appearances, winning the Super League, Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge each on two occasions.

Notable mentions: Stuart Reardon, Karl Pryce

3.Leon Pryce

After breaking into the first team at Bradford in 1998, Pryce soon became the club’s go-to utility player and was used on the wing, at fullback and in the halves. He was also a classy centre, applying the same pace and handling skills used in his other roles. He was part of the sides that won the 2001, 2003 and 2005 Super League titles, as well as picking up two Challenge Cup and two World Club Challenge medals.

Notable mentions: Paul Sykes, Scott Naylor, Graeme Bradley, Ben Harris

4. Shontayne Hape

Inside every great winger is a great centre and it’s safe to say Hape was the perfect man to partner Vainikolo on the Bulls’ left flank. He had superb awareness and an excellent offload, as well as being a potent try-scoring threat himself. He crossed the whitewash 85 times in 136 games, winning Super League, Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge titles, before joining Bath Rugby Union in 2008.

Notable mentions: Nathan McAvoy, James Evans, Danny Peacock

5. Lesley Vainikolo

Vainikolo is arguably the best winger ever to play in Super League. Aptly nicknamed ‘The Volcano’, the Tongan-born winger racked up an astonishing 147 tries in 152 games for the Bulls during his five years with the club, achieving cult status at Odsal and throughout the whole of Super League. He eventually switched to rugby union in 2007 but remains a firm fan favourite among fans of the 13-aside code.

Notable mentions: Marcus Bai

6. Henry Paul

Paul joined his younger brother at the Bulls in 1999 following spells in the UK with Wakefield and Wigan. The pair were like ying and yang, instantly clicking and being at the heart of a Bradford attack that was dynamic, creative and downright dangerous. In his three-year spell at the club he won the Super League and Challenge Cup trophies, and finished with a an impressive tally of 967 points from 99 matches.

Notable mentions: Iestyn Harris, Ben Jeffries

7. Peal Deacon

Paul Deacon.

Deacon was ‘Mr. Bradford Bulls’ during his 11 years at the club, becoming one of the league’s top scrum-halves. He won three Super League titles, two Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges with the Bulls and was renowned for his kicking game, both in-game and off the tee. He kicked 1139 goals in his 326 appearances, as well as scoring 76 tries.

Notable mentions: Matt Orford

8. Stuart Fielden

Fielden was one of Super League’s true hard men during his 15-year career. His most successful spell came at the Bulls, with whom he won Super League titles in 2001, 2003 and 2005, Challenge Cups in 2000 and 2003, and World Club Challenges in 2002 and 2004. His running battles with several rival forwards made him a sort of pantomime villain, which simply made Bradford fans love him even more.

Notable mentions: Joe Vagana, Brian McDermott, Craig Kopczak, Olivier Elima

9. James Lowes

Lowes is one of a handful of players in this side who played pre-Super League. He joined the Bulls in 1996 following successful stints at Hunslet and Leeds, with his attrition and determination soon making him a firm fan favourite. Lowes went on to make 181 Super League appearances, scoring 71 tries, and won Super League, Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge honours along the way, as well as the Man of Steel award in 1997.

Notable mentions: Terry Newton, Matt Diskin, Wayne Godwin, Ian Henderson

10. Andy Lynch

Yorkshire journeyman Lynch made 204 appearances for Bradford during a six-year spell at the club. His time there wasn’t littered with success in the same way some of the other players in this side but he played a part in several big scalps, including the 2006 World Club Challenge win over Wests Tigers, where he and Fielden dominated opposite numbers Ryan O’Hara and John Skandalis. Lynch was always a no-nonsense forward and earned respect by doing the hard yards.

Notable mentions: Lee Radford, Sam Burgess, Paul Anderson, Rob Parker

11. Elliott Whitehead

Elliott Whitehead. Credit: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

This was a tough position to choose but, as one of the club’s successful modern-day products, Whitehead just edged it. The 30-year-old has spent the past four years in Australia with Canberra but cut his teeth at the Bulls and played an integral part in keeping the club in Super League during several tough years between 2009 and 2013. He scored 39 tries in 109 games, with his direct running and late footwork earning him a reputation as one of Super League’s top youngsters at the time.

Notable mentions: Steve Menzies, Lee Gilmour, John Bateman, Daniel Gartner, Bernard Dwyer

12. Jamie Peacock

A true rugby league legend, Peacock’s inclusion was a no-brainer. He played a key part in Bradford’s three Super League titles, two Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenge triumphs between 2001 and 2005 and led the forward pack despite still being in his early twenties. He’s the true definition of a warrior and proved that with his continued success when he left the Bulls to join Leeds.

Notable mentions: David Solomona, Brad Meyers, Glenn Morrison, Mike Forshaw, Chris McKenna, Logan Swann

13. Jamie Langley

Langley spent almost his entire career at the Bulls, doing a 12-year stint before a few cameo appearances for Hull KR and Sheffield. Sometimes acting as an extra prop, he was always a fierce competitor and acted as a real leader in the middle of the field, particularly towards the back end of his career. He made a total of 258 appearances before leaving in 2013.

Notable mentions: Brad Mackay, Steve McNamara, Danny Addy

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