Super League has been blessed with some outstanding foreign stars. Some of the finest players from Australia and New Zealand have shone in the UK and today we’re celebrating them by picking Super League’s greatest overseas XIII looking at quality, longevity and legacy.
Fullback: Brent Webb
A three-time Super League Grand Final winner, Webb poached two tries in his three Old Trafford appearances as he proved central to Leeds’ most successful side. He arrived in 2007 with a huge reputation having delivered success to the New Zealand international side and made an instant impact finishing his first season as Leeds’ top scorer. One of Super League’s greatest ever support players and a superb attacker, he was always a joy to watch.
Wingers: Lesley Vainikolo and Pat Richards
Lesley Vainikolo was certainly a tank on the flank. A key member of the 2003 Bradford Bulls treble winning team, he was even better in 2004 scoring a record 39 Super League tries. He also holds the record for the most tries in a single Super League match but try scoring was just part of his game. The winger became a vital metre maker for the Bulls and often got them on the front foot. Pat Richards meanwhile was a very different winger. With all the skills in the book, he was key to Wigan’s return to glory and claimed the Man of Steel in 2010. A great goalkicker too, he scored over 2000 points for the Warriors.
Centres: Jamie Lyon and Shontayne Hape
Jamie Lyon is widely considered Super League’s greatest ever overseas signing. The 2005 Man of Steel was the complete centre, he scored tries and kicked goals for fun. He revitalised St Helens after their struggles in 2003 and 2004 and guided them to the treble in 2006. From one treble winner to another, Shontayne Hape was Vainikolo’s partner in crime as they formed one of Super League’s most effective left edges. He was a try scorer in the 2003 Grand Final as the Bulls wrapped up the treble but was just as impressive when it came to creating tries often conjuring up the space for his winger to cause havoc.
Halfbacks: Henry Paul and Thomas Leuluai
Scorer of a superb solo try in the 1999 Grand Final, Henry Paul could always produce something special in attack. His best rugby undoubtedly came at Odsal. He claimed the Lance Todd Trophy in 2000 before masterminding Super League’s most dominant Grand Final performance in 2001 as the Bulls put 37 points on Wigan. Speaking of Wigan, Thomas Leuluai helped end their 12-year wait for Super League glory in 2010 even claiming the Harry Sunderland award in the Grand Final. A superb organiser whether at nine or seven, the Wigan skipper has an enduring Super League legacy.
Props: Kylie Leuluai and Joe Vagana
Speaking of enduring Super League legacies, his cousin Kylie won’t ever be forgotten at Headingley. A six-time Super League Champion, he was key to the Rhinos reclaiming the Super League crown in 2007 after a couple of years in which Leeds lacked the necessary size to truly dominate. Capable of explosive runs and seismic hits, he’s one of Super League’s most underrated props. Alongside him is another treble winner in Joe Vagana who played his part in Super League’s greatest ever pack. He laid down the ground work for the Bulls alongside the likes of Paul Anderson as Bradford dominated the league.
Hooker: Danny Buderus
A former Australian captain, Buderus arrived at Headingley with huge pedigree as a former NRL Champion and the skipper who led New South Wales to State of Origin success in 2005. He was clearly a player of great quality and demonstrated that in Super League thanks to his superb game management and world class defence. He dovetailed masterfully with Rob Burrow in 2011 even claiming the Man of the Match in the classic semi-final win over Warrington as Leeds went onto secure the Super League title.
Second-Rowers: Ali Lauitiiti and Steve Menzies
Ali Lauitiiti also featured in the 2011 Grand Final for Leeds. Victory that night saw him claim his fifth Super League title. He arrived at Headingley midway through 2004 and was perhaps the final piece of the puzzle as Leeds ended their 32-year wait for a championship. From there he kicked on becoming Super League’s greatest offloader. He also had an eye for a try scoring five in one game against Wakefield in 2005 and scoring in the 2007 Grand Final win. Menzies was a very different second-row but oozed class both at Bradford and Catalans. An NRL Champion and an absolute Rolls Royce of a player, he could do virtually everything on the rugby pitch.
Loose-Forwards: Adrian Vowles
The 1999 Man of Steel was one of the top loose-forwards at the start of Super League and masterminded Castleford’s shock journey all the way to the Grand Final eliminator in Super League IV. With an incredible work-rate, he was a brilliant player to have in the pack.