Super League Team of the Decade: Second Row

Ben Westwood (Warrington Wolves)

Ben Westwood has made over 400 appearances and won four Challenge Cups
Credit: Richard Long/News Images

Westwood started his career at Wakefield Trinity and stayed there for three years before signing for Warrington in 2002.

He won his first trophy of the decade in 2010 after helping the side to the Challenge Cup, after victory over Leeds Rhinos at Wembley. This came just a year after he helped his side beat Huddersfield to win the Wire’s first Challenge Cup since 1974.

A year later, he helped the Wolves to the League Leaders Shield, although he had a disrupted season.

Another Challenge Cup title followed a year later as Wire beat the same opponents at Wembley. They also made the Super League Grand Final for the first time, but this time Leeds got their revenge.

Wire had the chance for redemption in the Super League a year later, but lost out again against Wigan.

As some faces came and went over the next few years, Westwood stayed a part of the Warrington side and always played when he was available.

Fast-forward to 2016 and Warrington were back at Wembley, but this time they lost out to Hull FC. Wire did make up for his by beating the Black and Whites to claim the League Leaders Shield.

He would later play in both the Challenge Cup and Super League Finals in 2018, but lost them both.

Westwood has announced his retirement at the end of the 2019 season, after playing almost 500 games over a 20 year career.

Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors)

Liam Farrell has won three Super Leagues and two Challenge Cups
Credit: Craig Milner/News Images

Farrell is a product of the Wigan academy, and he made his debut in 2010m after a short dual registration spell in the Championship with Widnes Vikings.

When he came back, he played a big role in the Warriors lifting the League Leaders Shield and then winning their first Super League Grand Final, after previously losing their last four.

A year later, he came off the bench as Wigan won the Challenge Cup for the first time since 2002.

Whilst there were no major trophies in 2012, Farrell did still help Wigan to the League Leaders Shield.

That time without major trophies was brief as Wigan completed a League and Cup double. Farrell would play a part in both final wins against Hull FC and Warrington respectively.

However, they lost their next two Super League Grand Finals, as they lost against bitter rivals St Helens in 2014. They then lost to a Leeds side that completed the treble in 2015.

They made a third straight Grand Final in 2016, and beat Warrington for the second time to put right their recent record.

Just two years later, his side beat the Wolves once more to win their fourth Super League title in eight seasons.

Farrell has been an important part of Wigan’s success. He is a local lad who really understands what it takes to be a champion.

He certainly doesn’t seem to have any plans to walk away at the moment, and will be hopeful for more success further down the line as they look to rebuild under Adrian Lam.

Mark Minichello (Hull FC)

Minichello came to Hull ahead of the 2015 season and made an immediate impact as he won Supporters Player of the Year and shared the Players’ Player of the Year alongside Liam Watts.

The next season would see more success on the pitch for Minichello and Hull, as they claimed their first ever win at Wembley Stadium with a late win over Warrington Wolves.

They also nearly topped the table at the end of the Super 8s, but Warrington took their revenge for the Challenge Cup game and pipped them to the League Leaders Shield.

However, the Black and Whites did not let that get in the way as they claimed back-to-back Challenge Cup titles with a win over Wigan at Wembley.

He ended up retiring at the end of the 2019 season, having made 131 appearances for Hull, scoring 21 tries.

Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos)

Carl Ablett has played and won in a record seven straight Grand Finals
Copyright: News Images

Carl Ablett came through the Leeds system in 2004, but didn’t really settle into the team until the later 2000s.

The versatile forward, who can also play at centre, didn’t have the best of starts, as he was part of the Leeds side that lost three straight Challenge Cup Finals.

However, he did play in their first Super League triumph of the decade as they beat St Helens at Old Trafford in 2011 and their second in 2012 over Warrington. He scored in both finals.

Then in 2014, Ablett and Leeds got their hands on the Challenge Cup as they beat Castleford Tigers at Wembley Stadium.

A year later, Ablett played his part as Leeds won the treble, claiming the League Leaders Shield, the Challenge Cup and the Super League Grand Final.

His game time was starting to wind down after that as he started to pick up some minor injuries. However, he would come off the bench to help the Rhinos win one more Super League title in 2017.

He started the season in 2018 and played 15 games before he picked up a serious injury that would rule him out until the end of the season.

Several setbacks later saw him take the decision to retire from the game at the age of 33. He retired having set the record for having played and won in seven straight Grand Finals.

John Bateman (Bradford Bulls and Wigan Warriors)

John Bateman has won two Super League titles in five years at Wigan
Copyright: News Images

Bateman is a product of the Bradford Bulls academy and came through in 2011.

He made his debut in an 8-8 draw against Catalans Dragons. His breakthrough year came next as 2012 saw him establish a regular place in the side.

Bateman would then get a dream move a year later, as he signed for Super League champions Wigan Warriors. He left as Bradford were going through financial difficulties at the time.

He scored on his Super League debut against Wakefield Trinity, and played a crucial part as the Warriors reached a second straight Grand Final, although they lost against St Helens.

The versatile forward, who could be utilised in a number of positions, would go on to help the Warriors to another final, but they lost against a Leeds side claiming the treble.

However, it would be third time lucky as Bateman started as Wigan beat Warrington at Old Trafford in 2016. He would then back that up by playing a role in Wigan becoming World Champions, as they beat NRL champions Cronulla Sharks.

The finals didn’t stop there for Wigan and Bateman as he made his Wembley debut as Wigan reached the Challenge Cup Final. He scored, but couldn’t help Wigan to victory as Hull claimed back to back Challenge Cups.

He came into 2018 having lost the 11 shirt following the return of Joel Tomkins. But carried on where he left off and carried on to help the Warriors to a second Super League title in three seasons.

The England international then departed to take up a contract with Canberra Raiders, where he has continued to develop and even won a Dally M award for second row of the year.

 

 

 

 

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