Last night James Roby made his 500th appearance as the Saints downed Leeds 26-0 to lay down a marker as they chase a fourth consecutive title – a Super League record.
500 appearances aside, Roby has done enough on the field in terms of his amazingly consistent performances for the Saints to be considered the greatest of all time (GOAT) where Super League is concerned.
But who else could be considered as such and who has the best claim to such an accolade? We’re answering that as we look at six players who could be considered the Super League GOAT.
Like James Roby, Sinfield celebrated his 500th appearance in the final year of his career in 2015. That night at Headingley was less enjoyable than the one Roby enjoyed last night but in terms of a final season it was the stuff of dreams. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 three as captain. A fourth this year would see him join Sean O’Loughlin as Super League’s joint second most successful skipper and will see him become the first man to lift the Super League title in four consecutive seasons.