As we continue to wait for a restart date for the 2020 season, I have decided to name my Super League team of the last decade.
Full-back: Zak Hardaker
Despite some controversial moments off the pitch, every team Hardaker has featured for in the last decade has been successful. He played in the Leeds side who won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012 before becoming a key component in the Rhinos treble-winning outfit of 2015. The England international then led Castleford to their first League Leaders’ Shield before his infamous drugs ban. He returned to sign for Wigan and had a solid season for the Cherry & Whites in 2019. Hardaker’s individual accolades also speak volumes about his quality over the last 10 years. He won the Young Player of the Year award in 2012 and was named Man of Steel in 2015.
Wingers: Tommy Makinson and Ryan Hall
Ryan Hall was without a doubt the best winger in Super League at the start of the 2010s, notching 30 tries or more in the first three seasons of the decade. The majority of his 196 Super League tries came in the 2010s as he climbed the all-time list to fourth. The decade also saw him named in the World Team of the Year three times. Towards the end of the decade however, it was Tommy Makinson who seemed to take the mantle as the competition’s best winger. Last season’s top try-scorer has been consistently great for Saints throughout the decade, scoring in the 2014 Grand Final win and playing a huge part in the 2019 success. Made famous for his acrobatic finishes and winning the 2018 Golden Boot, Makinson was always a guaranteed selection in this team.
Centres: Kallum Watkins and Michael Shenton
Kallum Watkins was one of the most dynamic players in Super League and was so hard to handle when on form. He featured in three Grand Final triumphs for Leeds and was always a key player for the Rhinos, voted the club’s Player of the Year in 2015 as they secured the treble. A prime Watkins was a sight to behold and the Headingley faithful will have been sad to see him depart after such a successful spell in blue and amber. In the other centre is the versatile Michael Shenton. Since returning to Castleford as captain, he has shown superb leadership and consistency to help the club challenge at the top of Super League. His standout year was undoubtedly 2017 when the Tigers topped the table and made it to Old Trafford.
Halves: Kevin Sinfield and Danny McGuire
You may think there is a distinct Leeds flavour to this team and that goes to show the dominance they’ve had over Super League. Kevin Sinfield led the Rhinos to three Grand Final successes in the 2010s and four other major trophies in the decade. The 2010s also saw him become Super League’s record point’s scorer, goal-kicker and appearance-maker. It was in 2012 we arguably saw the best of ‘Sir Kev’ as he featured in all 37 of Leeds’ games, leading them to both major finals, while claiming the Harry Sunderland Trophy and Golden Boot. His mantle as Leeds captain was then taken up by Danny McGuire who went on to lead the Rhinos to Grand Final success in 2017, having already featured heavily in the club’s previous triumphs alongside Sinfield. McGuire became Super League’s all-time top try-scorer in the 2010s and was the only man to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice in the decade.
Props: Alex Walmsley and Jamie Peacock
Jamie Peacock bowed out as Super League’s most successful player in the decade and his record will take some beating. After getting over an ACL injury, the legendary prop returned to his glory days and was nominated for the Man of Steel award in 2013 and 2014. He continued his fantastic form into the last year of his career in 2015 as he helped inspire Leeds to the treble, showing all the heart and desire that made him such a special player. Alex Walmsley meanwhile has had a less trophy-laden decade but one in which his work-rate and strength has earned him international recognition. Once Peacock retired, Walmsley was widely regarded as the competition’s best prop and he was an integral factor in St Helens return to dominance at the end of the decade.
Hooker: James Roby
Consistent, reliable and at times unstoppable! James Roby is a true Super League great who was as good at the end of the decade as he was at the start. Strong, elusive and with a superb rugby brain, Roby is arguably the perfect hooker and will most likely go down as the competition’s greatest ever number nine. He maintained St Helens’ status as one of the top teams in the league, even when the going got tough at times, ensuring they never missed out on the play-offs. Over the last decade Roby has featured in four Grand Finals, winning two, while his captaincy has also been a real focal point in the Saints’ rise back to the Super League summit.
Second-rowers: Liam Farrell and John Bateman
John Bateman is widely regarded as the best second-rower in the world at the moment, but Wigan fans will tell you they knew that before he broke on to the NRL scene. The no-nonsense back-rower was super consistent for the Cherry & Whites and his performances were a major factor in maintaining Wigan’s success over the 2010s. Meanwhile, his former teammate Liam Farrell is another of those players who feels like he has been around forever. At the start of the decade he scored a famous winning try against St Helens in 2011 and has gone from strength to strength since, peaking with a game-changing performance in the 2016 Grand Final as he claimed the Harry Sunderland Trophy. Much like Bateman, Farrell never has a bad game and is one of Super League’s most respected players.
Loose-forward: Sean O’Loughlin
Speaking of respected players, Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin has had a brilliant decade, writing his name into the history books of his club and the competition. The 2010s began with him leading the Warriors to their first Grand Final win in 12 years and much like London busses, many more have followed. O’Loughlin has been instrumental in helping Wigan become a powerhouse of English rugby league again after a wobble in the noughties, captaining the club to nine major trophies, including four Grand Final triumphs. ‘Lockers’ could yet add to his impressive personal and team trophy haul before he retires, with his seven appearances in the Super League Dream Team only bettered by the aforementioned Peacock (11).