Sometimes in Rugby League, inspiration is needed to go to the next level. That can sometimes include a position change for a star – or even two. Here are the five best player positional changes in Super League history.
Rob Burrow – halfback to hooker
He had come through the ranks at Leeds as an out-and-out scrum-half, but Rob Burrow won a number of his eight Super League titles, two Challenge Cups and won the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice whilst at hooker. From the 2012 Super League Grand Final onwards, Burrow was selected as Leeds’ number nine and won the 2015 Grand Final and the 2014 Challenge Cup Final in that position. This enabled Brian McDermott to play Kevin Sinfield in the halves alongside Danny McGuire and it clearly worked, much to the chagrin of Rhinos fans who wanted Burrow to play in his natural halfback position.
Sam Tomkins – halfback to fullback
After playing most of his amateur rugby league at halfback, Sam Tomkins began his Wigan career in that position, bursting onto the scene with five tries in a Challenge Cup fixture against Whitehaven. Tomkins and the Warriors won the 2010 Grand Final, but despite having number six on his back, the Wigan youngster would play at fullback – the rest, as they say, is history. From there, Tomkins earned the number one shirt in 2011, winning the Challenge Cup that year and the double with the Warriors in 2013 before leaving for the NRL at the end of that successful season.
Leon Pryce – wing to halfback
It’s one of the more unusual position changes, but it was one which made a great deal of difference for Super League in the late 2000s. Leon Pryce had started his career at Bradford on the wing, playing there in the Bulls’ 2001 Grand Final triumph over Wigan. But, after only limited chances in the halves, Pryce made the move to St Helens. It was a match made in heaven as the rangy figure helped Saints to a treble in 2006 and the Challenge Cup once more in 2007 as well as the Lance Todd Trophy in the latter final. He would go on to win at Wembley once more in 2008, but would lose at Old Trafford that year as well as in 2009 before moving to Catalans at the end of 2011.
Bevan French – halfback to fullback
Bevan French was signed by Wigan midway through 2019 to play halfback and replace the outgoing George Williams. Indeed, he was given the number six shirt ahead of the 2020 season in a clear view that head coach Adrian Lam saw the livewire Aussie as a halfback with Zak Hardaker being given the number one. But, the switch was made almost instantly with French dropping to the back and Hardaker shifting to the centre. And, whilst the latter seemed a shadow of his former self in the centres, the former slipped in seamlessly, offering Wigan an incredibly exciting outlet. The change was so seamless that French was handed the fullback shirt for 2021.
Richie Myler – halfback to fullback
Richie Myler had won the Challenge Cup as a number seven for Warrington 2012 and earned seven England caps in that position. But, following a stagnant end to his Warrington career, Myler made the move to the south of France with the Catalans Dragons where he stayed for two seasons. 2018 beckoned and the diminutive playmaker moved back to England, this time with Leeds Rhinos. After a less-than impressive start to life in the halves, Myler was switched to fullback by current boss Richard Agar. That move basically reignited his career and the new number one has proved himself, winning the Lance Todd Trophy in Leeds’ Challenge Cup success in 2020.