In 2006, St Helens became the second team to win the treble in the Super League era. Daniel Anderson’s side was formidable, and filled with some of the biggest names in Super League.
Wigan finished just 4th in 2013, but went on to win both the Grand Final and Challenge Cup Final. They became the definition of a big-game team, winning exactly when they needed to and possessing the aggression and determination to get past any opposition when necessary.
In this article I have made a combined 13, chosen solely off players’ performances for Saints and Wigan in the years 2006 and 2013 respectively.
1. Paul Wellens
Fullback was probably the most difficult decision in the whole side. Sam Tomkins is excluded despite having a fantastic 2013, but Wellens’ 2006 Man of Steel award is what gives him the slight edge. Mr. Consistent was just that throughout 2006, as he scored 18 tries in Super league alone, and his reliable presence was vital during Saints’ all-conquering season.
Wingers: Josh Charnley and Pat Richards
Another contentious position was winger. Despite an impressive season from Ade Gardner in 2006, in which he scored 26 tries, he misses out on the side. However, neither of Wigan’s wingers from 2013 could be overlooked. The balance between Josh Charnley’s incredible ability to score tries and Pat Richard’s maturity and goalkicking made them arguably the best wing partnership in Super League’s history. Charnley was by far the top Super League try-scorer in 2013 with 33, and Richards was the second highest point-scorer with 239.
Centres: Jamie Lyon and Iain Thornley
The former of this centre pairing is a shoo-in. Jamie Lyon had an incredible, yet short tenure in Super League. Lyon hardly put a foot wrong throughout the season, as his incredible goalkicking talent made the difference for Saints in multiple close-fought games. Although he does not quite have the same superstar reputation as Lyon, Iain Thornley was very important for Wigan in 2013. He made 28 appearances across all competitions, scoring 16 tries, including a try in Wigan’s Challenge Cup Final victory over Hull F.C.
Halfbacks: Leon Pryce and Sean Long
These two have a strong claim to being the best halfback partnership that Super League has ever seen. The perfect combination of Pryce’s running threat and Long’s creative style of play made them a joy to watch. At Saints, Pryce reinvented himself as a stand-off, a decision that would prove to be a wise one, as he became one of the best stand-offs in the world. Sean Long also had a brilliant 2006, winning a Lance Todd Trophy and featuring in the Dream Team.
Props: Paul Anderson and Jason Cayless
Former Great Britain and Bradford legend Paul Anderson had the perfect end to his career in 2006. At 34, he was still able to make regular appearances for Saints as he bowed out winning all that was up for grabs. Jason Cayless was also a huge asset for Saints in the front row. Another prop who was able to make weekly appearances, his huge frame and strong carries made him a significant part of the Saints side.
Hooker: Kieron Cunningham
Kieron Cunningham makes the side and becomes part of a full St Helens front row. The one-club man made the Dream Team for a sixth time in 2006, and was typically consistent for Saints that year. He made a staggering 28 appearances at hooker, and worked tirelessly in each and every one.
Second Row: Liam Farrell and Jon Wilkin
It is a testament to their careers that each of these players were both still playing in 2020, and Farrell is still one of the best forwards that Super League has to offer. Farrell scored 12 tries in 2013, and made such an impression that he earned himself a place in the England side. Jon Wilkin impressed fans in 2006, and was even able to edge out teammate, and one of the biggest stars in the sport, Paul Sculthorpe, to earn himself a spot in the Dream Team.
Loose Forward: Sean O’Loughlin
In 2013, O’Loughlin earned his then fourth Dream Team spot of what would be seven. One of Wigan’s greatest legends, he captained Wigan to Challenge Cup and Grand Final victories. O’Loughlin was a highly influential presence on the pitch and epitomised what made the 2013 Wigan side so good in big games.