Being a Super League star is one thing, but being an NRL star is another thing altogether. Some players make the step up, but a lot of those that do find it difficult to settle.
For a few British household names though, trying their hand in the southern hemisphere’s top tier has never materialised.
Here are five that would have made it Down Under.
Arguably one of St Helens’ most important players of the Super League era, James Roby has not even considered a move to the NRL despite playing over 500 career games at the highest level. The hooker has been at Saints since making his debut in 2004 and that doesn’t look like ending any time soon. At the age of 35, Roby’s chance has clearly passed, but his speed around the ruck and superb passing game would have suited the NRL down to a tee.
He came through the Wigan ranks in 2002 and finally retired at the end of the 2020 season, but it was perhaps a shame that Sean O’Loughlin never tested himself against the world’s best. A Wiganer through-and-through, the loose-forward played almost 500 career games for the Warriors, England and Great Britain. A real tough and charismatic leader, O’Loughlin would have taken to the NRL like a duck to water.
Most people think of Paul Sculthorpe as a one-club man, yet he began his career at Warrington before shifting to St Helens after two seasons in the primrose and blue. 12 seasons later and Sculthorpe retired with injury just three days shy of his 31st birthday. There is little doubt that the loose-forward would have excelled in the NRL with his superb ball-handling skills and hard-hitting defence causing all sorts of problems. His brilliant leadership would also have been welcomed; when he spoke, the players listened.
One of Super League’s and England’s greatest ever enforcers, Jamie Peacock earned the reputation as one of the most successful players in Super League history, having won a total of nine Super League championships, four Challenge Cup winners medals, been named in the Dream Team on eleven occasions and won the Man of Steel award in 2003. But, those achievements could easily have been added to an NRL Premiership title if Peacock had tried his hand in Australia. No doubt, the memories of going toe-to-toe with Willie Mason would have helped his stock considerably too.
Finally a back on the list and who better than Wigan’s Kris Radlinski. He played all his career with the Warriors, spanning 13 seasons before retiring due to injury. Fleet-footed and safe as houses under the high ball, Wigan’s number one would have fit superbly into any NRL side and would surely have had the biggest impact of any three-quarter to have made the .