Super League has been blessed with some quality sides. From treble winners to teams who’ve dominated the league from start to finish, we’ve seen just about every iteration of a champion side in the top flight since 1996. But who is the best of the best?
10. Warrington Wolves 2011
How did this team not win the Grand Final? It might feel controversial to include a team who failed to win the Super League title but this Warrington side was one of the finest we’ve ever seen in the Super League. They’re one of six sides to score over 1000 points in a season and did so whilst playing some superb rugby. They had stars like Lee Briers, Brett Hodgson and the Monaghan brothers. This was a special side who eased to top spot. In truth you could view this as an honorary mention for the Warrington side from 2011-13 who played in two Grand Finals and were consistently the best during this period but always failed to win the big one. Without a doubt the best team not to win the Grand Final.
9. Wigan Warriors 1998
Wigan only lost twice in the league back in 1998 and both defeats came against second place Leeds who they beat twice in the play-offs to win the very first Grand Final. In fact, Wigan were just 80 minutes away from completing what would now be regarded as the treble had they turned up at Wembley. They lost to Sheffield in the Challenge Cup Final but the size of the upset points to how dominant Wigan were in 98.
8. St Helens 1996
Double winners, the Saints team of 1996 are often disregarded when we’re debating Super League’s best teams. But Super League’s first Champions were special. Led by Bobbie Goulding, the Saints secured the league title and scored over 900 points in just 22 games. Add to that their Challenge Cup success and you have a superb team.
7. Wigan Warriors 2013
Another team who won the double, the Warriors side of 2013 don’t sit as high as you might think given the fact they finished 4th that season. However, they proved they had the class and star power to win when it really mattered when they dispatched Hull in the Challenge Cup Final before beating rivals Warrington at Old Trafford completing the Grand Final’s greatest ever comeback. With stars like Sam Tomkins and Pat Richards, this team could topple just about anyone on its day.
6. St Helens 2019
A truly dominant force. They very nearly won the treble and would have done but for a spirited Warrington performance at Wembley. The Saints claimed their second consecutive League Leaders’ Shield with a whopping 52 points – the highest total we’ve seen in the Super League. They then went onto win the Grand Final against Salford having cruised through the play-offs.
5. Leeds Rhinos 2009
This entry stands for all that Leeds achieved from 2007-09. The Rhinos became the first and only team to win the Super League three times in a row. When we’re discussing the greatest teams over a number of years, this team has to take the number one spot for me. However, as it’s only single years we’re looking at, fifth will have to do. They finished top with 42 points turning on the flair towards the end of the campaign scoring 144 points in just two games against Castleford and Crusaders. They then scored some superb tries in the play-offs as they eased to Old Trafford where the Rhinos claimed their third consecutive title with an 18-10 victory over St Helens. Lined with the likes of Sinfield, Mcguire and Burrow at their peaks, it was a truly great team.
4. Leeds Rhinos 2004
Slightly better than the Rhinos class of 2009 was their team in 2004. They scored 1037 points a tally only bettered by Warrington in 2011 and themselves in 2005. They blew the competition away losing just twice and amassing 50 points in just 28 games. They blew away St Helens 70-0 at Headingley and would soundly beat many of the top teams such as when beat Champions Bradford 40-12 or when they put 40 on Wigan in the Grand Final Eliminator. From there they’d play rivals Bradford at Old Trafford and despite being an inexperienced team played the conditions perfectly and claimed their first Super League title.
3. Bradford Bulls 2003
One of three treble winners Super League has seen, this Bradford side were a real force of nature. I don’t think there has ever been a bigger or stronger teams in Super League with the likes of Peacock and Fielden in the back-row and a tank on the flank in the shape of Lesley Vianikolo who was simply unstoppable that season. They produced a classic cup final against Leeds before claiming top spot with 44 points and easing passed Wigan in the Grand Final.
2. St Helens 2006
Some might say Saints’ treble winners are the best team Super League has seen. No one was close to them in 2006 but that’s why they lose a few marks for me as the competition wasn’t really there as it was with our top pick. Nonetheless, for me – alongside the Leeds team of 2007-09 – this Saints team was one of the finest over multiple seasons amassing 8 trophies in three years. Their peak came in 2006 as they powered to the treble led by the likes of Sean Long, Jamie Lyon and Paul Sculthorpe.
1. Leeds Rhinos 2015
Recently voted on the RFL website as the greatest British team of all time, for me this side had to sit top of the pile. If anything that’s testament to their rivals too which included Champions St Helens, a special Huddersfield side and a Wigan team who would’ve made this list had they nicked top spot or beaten the Rhinos at Old Trafford. This Leeds team played superb rugby with arguably the best set of outside backs the competition has seen – Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon and Hall – which only added to the class legends like Sinfield, McGuire, Burrow and Peacock brought. They won every trophy they could and Kylie Leuluai once said had that team stayed together after 2015 they’d have won the treble again and again. Bold claim but it would be hard to argue against it given the quality of the team and how they were willing to give everything for each other.