The right substitute at the right time can change a game. An explosive prop or a livewire hooker’s introduction into the contest can provide the platform to victory and culminate in some of the most exciting performances ever. With that in mind, here’s the five best Super subs in super League history.
5. Iafeta Paleaaesina
No matter whether it was at Salford or Wigan, you could guarantee Paleaaesina’s introduction into the game would ruffle a few feathers. Only capable of 10-minute stints, it would often be 10 minutes of World War Three as he powered over the top of opponents again and again.
4. David Solomona
Like Paleaaesina, Solomona always brought explosivity and size onto the field but he also conjured up creativity as well thanks to his superb offload. He often gave Bradford a different dimension down the middle following his introduction. The size of his grip meant that he could do almost anything with the rugby ball which made him a nightmare for defences to deal with.
3. Ali Lauitiiti
Like Solomona, Lauitiiti could do special things with the rugby ball. In fact, you could say that there’s never been a better offloader than the former Leeds man. Capable of basketball passes, superb dummies and barnstorming drives he was almost impossible to handle at times. He even came off the bench and scored in the 2007 Grand Final underlining his superb attacking ability.
2. James Roby
Although now associated with the number nine jersey and often entrusted with 80-minute performances, once upon a time Roby would start on the bench behind the magnificent Kerion Cunningham. Roby would then come on and offer something different. He’d inject pace into the side, a wide skill set and deceptive strength all of which allowed him to devastate tired defences on the back of a quick ruck.
1. Rob Burrow
Brian McDermott’s decision to move Rob Burrow to the bench in 2011 was a masterstroke which revitalised the Leeds Rhinos and formed the groundwork of another seven years of success at Headingley. In the years previous, Burrow had settled as Leeds’ scrum-half but McDermott recognised that his pace and agility could devastate tired defences and it was an observation which led to success. He destroyed Warrington in the semi-final before he conjured up a Man of the Match performance at Old Trafford to down St Helens as he came up with Old Trafford’s most famous try as well as a superb assist to ensure the trophy headed to Leeds. From there, he continued to be a remarkable substitute over the next few years as his Leeds team added another three Super League titles to their tally.