Next up in our series of top 10 articles we rank the most underrated players currently playing in Super League.
10. Aaron Smith (St Helens)
Saints have demonstrated how impressive their academy setup is down the years and Aaron Smith is one of the latest prospects. The 23-year-old hasn’t quite got the recognition of fellow youngsters Matty Lees and Jack Welsby, but he is the man in line to replace James Roby at hooker and fans of the Red Vee can be confident he’s up to the challenge. Smith’s speed and guile from acting half are major strengths as he continues to go under the radar nicely for the reigning champions.
9. Jacob Wardle (Huddersfield Giants)
His older brother Joe has been in the spotlight for some time, so maybe it’s now Jacob Wardle’s turn to make the headlines? Since becoming a first-teamer in 2018, he has slowly got more minutes and is now a favourite of head coach Simon Woolford. The ever-improving centre does not get the credit he deserves and as the Giants start to improve, he could emerge as the shining light in their young, energetic team.
8. Samisoni Langi (Catalans Dragons)
Next up is Tongan international Samisoni Langi who has been an unsung hero at Catalans for some time. He has played a number of positions, including in the halves during their Challenge Cup triumph two years ago, before moving to the edges more recently, featuring predominantly at centre. Having finished 2019 as the Dragons’ top metre-maker, Langi is a reliable, hard-working player who possesses great potency close to the line.
7. Oliver Partington (Wigan Warriors)
Yet another of Wigan’s hot academy prospects is Oliver Partington and while he is recognised as a future star within his own club, outside of that he has yet to receive the credit he deserves. Morgan Smithies is the name on everyone’s lips, however Partington was in excellent form prior to the season suspension, claiming a man of the match award in a recent clash against Hull, producing a dominant display in the pack.
6. Cameron Smith (Leeds Rhinos)
He might not quite have the reputation of his Australian namesake, but Cameron Smith is making great progress at Leeds Rhinos. He has been a work horse in an improving Leeds team this season and his effort are often overlooked, with the likes of Konrad Hurrell, Luke Gale and Rob Lui receiving many of the plaudits. Smith is now a vital part of the Rhinos forward pack and one of the reasons they look a much stronger outfit in 2020.
5. David Mead (Catalans Dragons)
Papua New Guinea international David Mead never lets his side down when called upon and has proved to be a fantastic signing at Catalans. The 31-year-old is a superb support player and can rotate between positions, which has proved very useful for Steve McNamara in recent times. Like many on this list he is overshadowed constantly by bigger names, but Mead is a raw talent with an impressive skillset and definitely one of the competition’s most underrated players.
4. Gareth O’Brien (Toronto Wolfpack)
Gareth O’Brien has of course made the huge headlines in the past with his heroics for Salford in the 2016 Million Pound Game, yet he seems to still go under the radar. The goal-kicking general dropped down to the Championship with the Wolfpack in 2019 and quickly became a favourite, with his all-action style catching the eye of the Canadian fans. O’Brien has a great rugby brain, can produce game-changing moments and is one of Toronto’s key players.
3. Matty Ashurst (Wakefield Trinity)
Wakefield work horse Matty Ashurst has been an unsung hero for Trinity during his tenure and is probably one of the most consistent players in the competition. The 30-year-old makes priceless yardage and is usually his team’s top tackler, putting his body on the line week in week out. Ashurst is dedicated, has a great attitude and maximises every ounce of rugby skill at his disposal, making him very underrated.
2. Carlos Tuimavave (Hull FC)
Hull FC’s Carlos Tuimavave is a back-to-back Challenge Cup winner and a regular for the Black & Whites, yet despite his achievements, does not get the credit he deserves. Given his consistent contributions, the Samoan international should have his name in lights, with his sheer strength, mesmeric side-step and flexibility making him a huge favourite with the Old Faithful. Tuimavave will go down as one of Hull’s greatest overseas players and should get wider recognition across the competition.
1. Jordan Rankin (Castleford Tigers)
Daryl Powell is the master at getting the best out of players and there has never been a finer example than Jordan Rankin. The Australian had decent spells at Hull and Huddersfield but has been exceptional since signing for Castleford ahead of the 2019 season. Still only 28, the ex-NRL player has become one of Super League’s most consistent and dangerous full-backs, with a superb rugby brain, speed to burn and solid defence. Rankin’s vast improvement has gone largely unnoticed, making him currently the competition’s most underrated player.