Transfers are an understated part of achieving Super League success. Yes, the likes of Saints and Leeds have built their dominance with home-grown talent but both compliment that with astute signings.
The perfect signing can take teams to the next level but so many go unnoticed. Whether that’s because people forget they were a transfer or simply don’t hand them enough credit.
Today, we’re giving you the top 10 underrated transfers in Super League history.
10. Tom Briscoe (Hull FC to Leeds Rhinos)
Many believe Briscoe’s time at Leeds hasn’t lived up to the hype. Signed as one of the best wingers in the league, people expected an eye-catching Rhinos tenure. Although not quite the attacking masterclass people anticipated, it’s been littered with highlights. Wembley’s top scorer has scored 9 tries in 5 major finals for the Rhinos and was absolutely vital to the treble win. He scored 5 in the Cup triumph, started Leeds’ comeback against Huddersfield and played his part in McGuire’s superb second at Old Trafford.
9. Luke Gale (Bradford Bulls to Castleford Tigers)
This was a transfer that didn’t exactly catch the eye in 2015. After Bradford’s relegation, halfback Gale moved to Cas to replace Marc Sneyd. Under Powell he excelled. In his first season he featured in the Super League Dream Team before being the backbone of Cas’ greatest Super League season as they finished top and played in the Grand Final. He won the Man of Steel for his efforts.
8. Danny Brough (Wakefield Trinity to Huddersfield Giants)
Another Man of Steel winner playing for a table-topping side, people forget the Giants poached Brough from Wakefield mid-way through 2010. It was an astute bit of business that would go onto solidify their place towards the top of Super League. They finished in the top eight in his first six seasons at the club with his and Huddersfield’s peak coming in 2013.
7. Brett Ferres (Castleford Tigers to Huddersfield Giants)
Another Huddersfield signing that nobody noticed, at the John Smith’s Stadium Ferres became one of the competition’s best back-rowers. He was outstanding for Huddersfield as they finished top in 2013 and his form saw him make the Dream Team. Before long he was established as a regular starter for England.
6. Keith Senior (Sheffield Eagles to Leeds Rhinos)
This one loses marks for the recognition Senior receives as one of Super League’s all-time greats but few remember he was signed by the Rhinos towards the end of 1999 from Sheffield. After winning the Challenge Cup for the Eagles in 98, he would be a key feature in the Rhinos Super League success from 2004-09 as Leeds won four Super League Grand Finals. With 199 Super League tries he’s the competition’s second highest try scorer of all-time.
5. Darren Fleary (Keighley Cougars to Leeds Rhinos)
When this signing was made back in 1997, I’m sure it wasn’t a signing that scared the rest of Super League. As it transpired, Fleary would become one of those players you feared playing against. He helped form one of the meanest and hardest-hitting packs Super League has ever seen. The Rhinos even received a letter from the RFL saying their tackles were too rough thanks to him and his colleagues.
4. John Bateman (Bradford Bulls to Wigan Warriors)
When Bateman made the leap from Bradford to Wigan at the end of 2013, and consequently left relegation battles for major finals, few could’ve anticipated the impact he’d make on the sport over the next seven years. He established himself as one of Super League’s stars helping Wigan to 2016 and 2018 Super League title triumphs. His spell at Wigan earnt him a move to Canberra where he only added to his legacy.
3. Jon Wilkin (Hull KR to St Helens)
In the same vein as Bateman, few could’ve expected the impact Wilkin would have at St Helens when he left lower-league Hull KR for Knowsley Road. Over the next 15 years, he became a Super League legend and went onto captain the side. He even featured in Saints’ greatest ever team as they won the treble in 2006. Yet no one remembers he started his career in Humberside.
2. Thomas Leuluai (London Broncos to Wigan Warriors)
Another man with a forgotten past, Thomas Leuluai made nearly 50 appearances in Super League for London before joining Wigan. There he would be key to their journey as they went from flirting with relegation in 2006 to Champions in 2010. During his first stint at the DW he scored over 50 tries and won four major honours. He also won the Harry Sunderland Award for his superb performance in the 2010 Grand Final.
1. Kylie Leuluai (Manly to Leeds)
Unlike most overseas signings that culminate in success, Leuluai’s tenure at Leeds often gets overlooked much like his cousin’s influence at Wigan. Leuluai is Super League’s most successful overseas recruit winning six Grand Finals including bowing out a treble winner in 2015. Like Peacock who signed the season before, he added much needed size to the Rhinos in 2007 and was vital to their success over the next eight years. Most don’t look towards him as one of the heroes of that Rhinos team but without the size he offered the Rhinos wouldn’t have achieved quite as much as they did.