It was widely stated on Sunday that by winning the FIFA World Cup, Lionel Messi confirmed his status as the Greatest of all time (GOAT) of football.
But who would take this honour in Super League history?
Here’s our ranking of the six players who could be considered the GOAT of Super League’s 26 year history.
6. Paul Sculthorpe
A two-time Man of Steel winner and the only man to ever retain the award, Sculthorpe had everything and but for injuries at the end of his career could have been the indisputable GOAT. A three-time Grand Final winner and central to the first team to ever retain the Super League trophy in 2000, he was a serial winner and even captained the Saints to Challenge Cup glory later in his career. However, plenty of players won more Super League titles than the skilful loose-forward also his injuries derailed his career at the end denying him the chance to be part of a great St Helens team who, without him, were topped by the Leeds Rhinos.
5. Danny McGuire
With eight Grand Final wins to his name, only one player has won more Super League titles than Danny McGuire. He also holds the record for the most Grand Final wins with a single side and can say he captained a team to Grand Final glory as he did in 2017. The ultimate big game player he scored a remarkable eight tries in nine Grand Final appearances as well as registering a number of assists. He’s also a two-time Harry Sunderland Award winner and was the man to end Leeds’ 32-year wait for a title in 2004. He’s also Super League’s all-time leading try scorer and was the first man to reach 200 Super League tries doing so in 2012 just 11 years after his debut.
4. Andy Farrell
Man of Steel in the very first Super League season in 1996 and winner of the award eight years later in 2004, this shows the consistency Farrell showed throughout his Super League career. The first captain to guide a team to Grand Final glory in 1998 as his Wigan side defeated Leeds at Old Trafford in the inaugural decider, he has a special place in history. As tough as they come but full of skill, he could very well be considered the GOAT of Super League but his lack of Super League titles is what denies him a spot in the top three.
3. Jamie Peacock
Super League’s most successful player with nine Grand Final wins to his name, he’s one of three players to win the treble twice. The Great Britain skipper was crowned Man of Steel in 2003 before captaining Bradford to the Super League title in 2005. He then joined Leeds and formed the backbone of arguably Super League’s greatest ever side winning six titles in his 10 season stint with his home town club including three in a row from 2007-09 and two in a row in 2011 and 2012. A Man of Steel nominee in the penultimate year of his career as well as in 2013 and 2008, he was always at the heart of successful teams and never stopped working.
2. James Roby
What hasn’t James Roby accomplished? 500 appearances now and still going strong, Roby looks as good now as when he won the Man of Steel in 2007. A two-time Harry Sunderland Award winner as well, Roby has won five Grand Finals including four as captain. His fourth in 2022 saw him join Sean O’Loughlin as Super League’s joint second most successful skipper and saw him become the first man to lift the Super League title in four consecutive seasons. He also topped Kevin Sinfield’s record for Super League appearances last season.
1. Kevin Sinfield
Like James Roby, Sinfield made over 500 appearances in his career which ended in 2015. That season, he captained his side to the treble becoming only the third skipper to do so. His 40/20 was the difference in taking Leeds to Old Trafford and his goal ultimately won a seventh Super League title. The competition’s greatest ever skipper having lifted a record seven Super League titles, he also won the Harry Sunderland Award twice and came up with the Grand Final’s greatest ever tackle with a trysaver on Kyle Eastmond in 2009 to lead Leeds to a record third consecutive title. Super League’s all-time leading scorer and goal kicker, he has to be right up there in the GOAT debate. I think what gives Super League’s all time goal scorer and all time points scorer the edge is also what he’s done for Rob Burrow since he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Sport is all about characters and his character is practically flawless. He’s also third in the sports all time points scorers.