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Six British players who would have dominated the NRL – according to former Kanagaroo and Leeds Rhinos star

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Ex Leeds Rhinos fan favourite, Matt Adamson has selected the six British players from his playing career who would have dominated the NRL.

Sam Burgess, Gareth Ellis and James Graham are among the modern-day greats who have left Super League to take the NRL by storm.

Currently, the likes of Dom Young, Morgan Smithies and John Bateman are holding their own in Australia’s biggest competition, with Brits still a force down under despite the widening gap between the two competitions in terms of salary cap spend.

Lewis Dodd will head to South Sydney next season, hoping to change the narrative on modern-day English half-backs who have notoriously struggled to make a big impact in the NRL.

However one former NRL, State of Origin and Kangaroos great believes there are a number of players from the Super League era who would have dominated down under if they had made the move.

Matt Adamson enjoyed a long and successful career with Parramatta Eels, Penrith Panthers, Canberra Raiders and Leeds Rhinos. He also represented New South Wales and Australia in a colourful career.

Adamson was one of the NRL greats of nineties, before his move to Super League saw him form a key part of the side which laid the foundations of the club’s golden generation. He left England after winning the 2004 Grand Final with the Rhinos.

Now back in Australia and playing a critical role in identifying talent for the future for a number of Super League and NRL clubs, he has been speaking to Serious About Rugby League about the comparisons between Super League and the NRL.

While he admits there is now a gap between the two competitions, Adamson believes a number of Super League players from years gone by would have had no problem in taking the NRL by storm if they had made the move.

Adamson revealed to us the six British players from his generation he believes would have been huge successes in the NRL.

Lee Briers – Warrington Wolves

Lee Briers (left) with a player who did take the NRL by storm, Adrian Morley. Credit: Imago Images

Lee Briers had a glittering playing career in Super League. Between 1998 and 2013, he played 425 games for the Warrington Wolves, having started his career at St Helens. Briers played a key role in Warrington’s 2010 Challenge Cup final victory over Leeds. He also played in the side which won the Challenge Cup in 2012, beating the Rhinos again in the Wembley showpiece. Briers never lifted the Super League trophy, losing in two Grand Finals.

Briers never played in the NRL, however he is now an assistant coach in Australia. Briers has received rave reviews for his work at Brisbane Broncos. He has been linked to a return to Super League in recent weeks, with Hull FC reportedly interested in appointing him as Head Coach. Adamson has no doubt that Briers would have been a success in NRL, had he made the move during his playing career.

Sean Long – St Helens

Sean Long playing for St Helens. Credit: Imago Images

According to Adamson, Sean Long was an “outstanding talent”, and is another player he believes would have made mark in the NRL.

Long started his career at Widnes, but is most famous for his time at St Helens. Over 12 years with the Red Vee, Long played 343 times, scoring 156 tries. The Great Britain international was also part of the last British side to win a test match in Australia, in the famous 2006 Tri-Nations series. In a stellar career, Long won four Super League titles and five Challenge Cups.

Long is now the head coach at Oldham, who top league one with six win from six games so far this season.

Keiron Cunningham – St Helens

Kieron Cunningham. Credit: Imago Images

Adamson also describes former team mate, Keiron Cunningham as “outstanding”, and believes the hooker would have been a huge success had he made the move to NRL.

Cunningham spent his entire playing career in the Super League with St Helens. He played 496 games for the Saints, scoring 175 tries. He also represented Great Britain 14 times in his international career, which ended in 2006.

During his career, Cunningham lifter the Super League title five times. He also won seven Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenge titles. He featured in the Super League Dream Team on six occasions.

Danny McGuire – Leeds Rhinos

Danny Maguire of Leeds Rhinos lifts a trophy

Danny McGuire. Credit: Imago Images

Until Ryan Hall scores his next two tries, Leeds Rhinos legend, Danny McGuire, remains Super League’s leading try scorer. He was Adamson’s team mate at Leeds in the early 2000s.

McGuire scored 267 tries in 426 appearances in all competitions for the Rhinos, before ending his career with Hull KR. He was a key part of the Rhinos Golden Generation and, along with Adamson, was part of the first Rhinos side to win a Super League Grand Final in 2004.

McGuire is now assistant coach at Castleford Tigers, having won eight Super League titles, two Challenge Cups and three World Club Challenges with Leeds.

Kevin Sinfield – Leeds Rhinos

Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow celebrate while playing for Leeds Rhinos

Kevin Sinfield (right). Credit: Imago images

Kevin Sinfield was Adamson’s captain at the Leeds Rhinos, and a key part of the success they had in the 2000s and 2010s.

Adamson believes Sinfield had all the attributes required to be a success in the NRL, however he spent his entire Rugby League career with the Leeds Rhinos. He also played 14 times for Great Britain and 29 times for England. He captained England in the 2013 World Cup, which ended in a heart-breaking defeat to New Zealand at Wembley.

Alongside coaching in Rugby Union, Sinfield has dedicated his post playing career to raising funds for MND, to support former team-mate, Rob Burrow.

Rob Burrow – Leeds Rhinos

Rob Burrow lifts a Leeds Rhinos flag triumphantly

Rob Burrow. Credit: Imago Images

The final player chosen by Adamson is Leeds legend Rob Burrow. Adamson stated he “would have loved to see little Robbie Burrow have a crack at the NRL”.

Burrow’s diminutive stature was his biggest weapon, alongside his electric pace. He was unplayable at times and was the heartbeat of the greatest side in Leeds Rhinos’ history. He scored, arguably, the greatest ever try in a Grand Final, against St Helens in 2011.

Burrow was Adamson’s team mate for his entire spell in England. He played 492 games for the Rhinos, scoring 196 tries. He was also capped 13 times by England, and five times by Great Britain. Burrow won eight Super League titles, two Challenge Cups and three World CLub Challenge titles. He won the Harry Sunderland Trophy, for player of the match in the Grand Final, twice.

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