Another weekend passing by means we’re that bit closer to the start of the season with the Championship set to open up in just under four weeks and Super League following suit a fortnight later.
Pre-season is well underway as well with a whole host of friendlies scheduled for the upcoming weekend and that’ll be a chance for coaches to bleed in youngsters and new signings alike, however as we’ve already seen with the likes of Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos, senior players aren’t seeing much action yet.
For some senior players they’re heading into their testimonial year whilst others will head into their 20th season so we’ve put together a team full of the oldest players set to play in the 2023 Super League campaign, using presumed starters i.e. those with shirt numbers one through thirteen.
With only a few squads not having released their shirt numbers for 2023, the 2022 numbers will be used in that case.
1: Sam Tomkins: 32-years-old
Set to turn 33 in March Tomkins is one of the players in this team who doesn’t have a confirmed number for 2023 but given that he’s anchored the Catalans backline for multiple years now, including a Man of Steel winning campaign it’s assumed he’ll retain his shirt number.
2: Jermaine McGillvary – 34-years-old
Set to make his 300th appearance for Huddersfield this year, McGillvary is still among one of the competition’s best finishers despite his advancing years. With just ten tries in the 2023 season he’ll surpass the 200 mark and join an exclusive club.
3: Jordan Turner – 34-years-old
Turner takes his place in this side having turned 34 today, 9th January, and with a huge number of Super League appearances under his belt. Just seven appearances shy of the 300 mark and two tries short of a century Turner is another who doesn’t have his number confirmed for 2023.
4: Shaun Kenny-Dowall – 34-years-old
By the time the season starts the Hull KR captain will have turned 35 and he just edges out Warrington’s number four, Stefan Ratchford. The former New Zealand representative is coming off an incredible season having been selected to the Dream Team.
5: Ryan Hall – 35-years-old
Joining his centre partner in this team is Hull KR’s Ryan Hall. The veteran winger is closing down on his coach, Danny McGuire’s, all time Super League leading try tally of 247. With Hall sitting on 226 at present it’s likely he could need another two seasons to surpass the former Leeds Rhinos’ legend.
6: Mitchell Pearce – 33-years-old
The number six shirt is a contentious one with the two senior players in this position coming from sides who are yet to confirm their 2023 numbers. One is Gareth Widdop who is joining Castleford having donned the six shirt at Warrington for 2022. The man who is a month younger but has already worn the number six for his current club, despite it not being confirmed for 2023, is Mitchell Pearce at Catalans Dragons and he takes the place over Widdop based on the fact he’s worn the six shirt for his current club, unlike the England man.
7: Joe Mellor – 32-years-old
The first Leigh Leopard to make the list but he’s another player who isn’t confirmed as having his shirt number for 2023. Mellor acted as vice captain and donned the seven shirt during Leigh’s promotion campaign so he takes this role ahead of the likes of Marc Sneyd, who is still only 31.
8: Chris Hill – 35-years-old
The veteran prop performed exceptionally well at the World Cup showing that he still has plenty left and he takes his spot in this side as the most senior number eight in the competition. Hill will fly past 250 Super League appearances in 2023 as one of Ian Watson’s first names on the team sheet.
9: James Roby – 37-years-old
No surprises here as the the man who has made the most ever Super League appearances takes his spot in the hooker role. Roby has been incredible for St Helens across his career and a fifth consecutive Grand Final win would top it off for the man who has made well over 400 Super League appearances.
10: Paul Vaughan – 31-years-old
One of the new signings at Warrington makes the list with NRL import Paul Vaughan, the former Italy and Australia international featuring in this list. Whilst he’s not the second oldest prop by a long distance he’s the oldest prop to be given the number 10 shirt for the upcoming season and will aim to reverse the Wire’s fortunes after a poor 2022.
11: Willie Isa – 34-years-old
Having turned 34 on New Year’s Day Isa is one of the veteran second-rowers in the league and will look to earn more silverware with Wigan in the 2023 season. On 249 Super League appearances and 164 for Wigan he’s one of the most experienced players in a Wigan squad that will aim to build on their Challenge Cup success.
12: Chris McQueen – 35-years-old
The Huddersfield veteran joins this side as the eldest second-rower in the division, just pipping out Willie Isa. The number 12 who has a knack for scoring tries heads into his fourth season with the Giants and will be aiming to help guide what looks a very talented side back into the top spots for the 2023 season.
13: Joe Westerman – 33-years-old
Another Castleford Tigers’ player rounds out this veteran 13 with Westerman having returned to Wheldon Road for the 2022 season, the place where he kicked off his Super League career. Capped twice for England it’s his 320 Super League appearances that is incredibly impressive with 100 of those having come for the Tigers.