All the best Super League sides in history have had at least one excellent centre-wing partnership.
The very best examples of these partnerships are almost impossible to stop, and the chemistry between the outside backs can carry teams all the way to silverware.
Here, I list the five best centre-wing partnerships in Super League history.
5. Michael Shenton and Greg Eden
This partnership was typical of a good centre-wing duo – a prolific winger complemented by a tough, hard-working centre. They were a significant part of the 2017 Castleford side that shocked Super League as they cruised to the League Leaders’ Shield. Greg Eden scored 38 tries and was well on course to break the record of 40, but after a cruel injury against Salford ruled him out for the rest of the season, he was unable to become a record holder. He also could not aid Castleford’s bid to win the Grand Final, a game that could have been different, had a player with Eden’s try scoring capabilities been playing on the wing instead of at fullback. Shenton’s experience and work ethic were vital throughout the season, making breaks and freeing up Eden to score on multiple occasions. The two both made the Dream Team in 2017 for their contributions, and deservedly so.
4. George Carmont and Pat Richards
Carmont and Richards formed an incredible partnership from 2008 to 2012, never scoring less than 32 tries combined in a single season. Making up Wigan’s left edge, in 2010 the experienced pair helped Wigan win their first Super League title since 1998. In this season, Richards scored 31 tries in as many games, as well as being named Man of Steel. They also won the Challenge Cup the following year in which the pair scored seven tries combined in four games to help Wigan reach the final. Carmont earned three Dream Team inclusions whilst at Wigan, being included in both his first and final season at Wigan.
3. Keith Senior and Ryan Hall
These two are arguably the best players to have played in Super League in their respective positions, and they made a formidable pairing on Leeds’s left edge. They linked up at opposite stages of their career, with Senior in the final stages of his career, and Ryan Hall being a rising star. Senior had been at Leeds since 1999, and when Ryan Hall became an established Super League player during the 2009 season, the two quickly became an impressive combination. They both featured in the Dream Team in consecutive seasons in 2009 and 2010, as well as winning a Grand Final in 2009. Keith Senior provided a young Ryan Hall with multiple assists throughout the two seasons they consistently played together in, as Hall scored 51 tries across both seasons.
2. Shontayne Hape and Lesley Vanikolo
Bradford’s left side from the mid-2000s is comfortably the most powerful partnership on the list. Both players weighed over 100kg, making them near impossible to stop from close distance. They played in three consecutive Grand Finals together for Bradford from 2003 to 2005, winning two of them. Hape set up countless tries for ‘The Volcano’ and deserves a huge amount of credit for Vanikolo’s impressive try-scoring record. The two complemented each other perfectly, and for the five seasons in which they played together they were one of the most feared partnerships in the competition, scoring over 200 tries combined.
1. Jamie Lyon and Ade Gardner
Although Lyon and Gardner only played together for two seasons, they remain one of the most iconic and impressive centre-wing partnerships we have seen. The Australian international Jamie Lyon joined St. Helens in 2005, winning the Man of Steel in his debut season. From the moment him and Gardner linked up, it became clear that the two would be a problem for the other Super League sides. In just two seasons, Lyon and Gardner scored 46 and 44 tries respectively. Lyon’s skilfulness and evasive running combined with the size and determination of his outside man were a huge part of the success Saints achieved in 2006.