The Super League prop, by definition, is the hardest working player on the field. Without them, chances would not be created and defensive lines would crumble.
But who has been the best in the era of Super League? It is not an easy question to answer because as props are the workhorses of a team, they put in the same amount of work as any other prop; a workhorse is a workhorse. But nonetheless, some props are able to transcend just being the hard-working man with his head down in the centre of the field, and can break the mould.
Below is a suggested list of five props who have done this and who should be considered in at least the conversation of the greatest Super League props of all time.
5. Adrian Morley
In the five years he spent with the Leeds Rhinos in Super League, Adrian Morley created a reputation for himself that stayed with him throughout his career. He was the first Englishman to ever win both the Super League and NRL championships with Bradford Bulls and the Sydney Roosters respectively, and he was as equally feared in the NRL as he was on our shores. His proper return to Super League with Warrington in 2006 was met with much fanfare and he continued to carve his name onto the list of Super League legends. Even though he wasn’t always in the good graces of the referees, it cannot be denied that Morley was one of the most successful props in the Super League era.
4. Joe Vagana
A key element in one of the best Super League teams of all time, Joe Vagana was part of the ‘Awesome Foursome’ in a Bradford side that was world conquering. He was also an agile prop, which meant that he could put the footwork in when the situation warranted and, couple this with the stellar record of the Bulls at that time, there is no surprise he is considered to be one of the best props in Super League. Off the field, he settled into Bradford very well, contributing to many news and media outlets within the city, and was incredibly popular with the fans. He could run through pretty much anything as a prop and his time with the Bulls will definitely be the highlight of his career.
3. Kylie Leuluai
Part of the ‘Golden Generation’ at Leeds, many were surprised when Leuluai announced his retirement from Rugby League, along with Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock, at the end of the 2015 season. With the passing of every campaign, Leuluai just got better and better and could be described as nothing other than infallible in a Leeds side, like Vagana’s Bulls, that was one of the best in Super League history. Readily taking three, sometimes four defenders to tackle him, he created huge gaps in the opposing teams defensive line to let either Danny McGuire or Rob Burrow shoot through, or for the ball to be sent out wide to Ryan Hall where he could capitalise on the lack of defence. A true Leeds legend and one of the most successful overseas signings in Super League history.
2. James Graham
One of the best things about the stunning 2020 Grand Final was to see this man play for St. Helens again. His emotion at the end of the game showed how much the win meant to him and like the other names on this list, we have another legend. His gritty, hard-working play was easy for anyone to see and without doubt he is regarded as one of the best players in Super League, with also a very respectable NRL record too with Canterbury and St. George-Illawarra. A constant in the international game, James Graham is one of those players who is thought of in a Great Britain shirt almost as much as a St. Helens one. A Dream Team shoo-in for most years, James Graham will be one of those players who will continue to inspire kids to pick up a ball and see if they can cut it as a Rugby League player.
1. Jamie Peacock
Jamie Peacock is one of the most decorated Rugby League players of all time and quite rightly sits at the top of this list. A man who got the best out of Super League with Bradford Bulls between 1998 and 2005 and Leeds Rhinos from 2006 until his retirement in 2015, Jamie Peacock won every major trophy with both and was vital in each of those team’s successes. He was in the Super League Dream Team multiple times, often partnering James Graham as prop, but could also play second row too. Peacock was a stalwart for the international game too and who can forget his ‘altercation’, shall we say, with Willie Mason after Mason dropped Stuart Fielden in the 2006 Tri-Nations? A definite fan favourite moment, but one that does not reflect his extremely well-respected international career and his captaincy of the Great Britain side. What more is there to be said? He is a true immortal of Super League and if coaches were to be asked who they could model their best prop after, Jamie Peacock would be top of the list.