Super League has been blessed over the years with a gargantuan number of skilled players. But, just which five would be classed as the best ‘maverick’ players in the summer game’s history?
One of the most talented stars to ever take to a Rugby League field, Rangi Chase appeared in the UK in 2009 as a relative unknown. Well, all that was about to change with the Kiwi taking to Super League like a duck to water. Over the course of five seasons, the halfback scored 47 tries in 129 appearances, securing the Man of Steel in 2011 as the Tigers narrowly missed out on the Challenge Cup Final. Chase became a hero on the terraces at the Jungle, his majestic skill wowing crowds until a move to Salford at the end of 2013 ended a superb spell. He didn’t stop there, however, delivering some of the best moments to have ever been witnessed on a rugby league field. Like the prodigal son, the New Zealander returned to Castleford at the end of 2016 before joining Widnes on-loan in 2017.
After starting his career at Huddersfield, Halifax-born Jake Connor made the move to Hull FC in 2017. Since that moment, Connor’s career took on a new dimension, winning the Challenge Cup with the Airlie Birds and then earning a call-up to the England squad in 2018. But, under new boss Brett Hodgson, the utility man has made the move permanently to fullback – something which looks like an incredibly good fit. Though having a reputation as a wind-up merchant, Connor is an extremely talented ball-player with an eye for the magnificent.
A cult hero in St Helens, Sean Long moved from Widnes midway through the 1997 season, racking up 124 tries and 812 goals over a period of 12 years. A Man of Steel winner in 2000, the halfback claimed four Super League titles, six Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges in his time at Knowsley Road. Ever the opportunist, Long could change the game in a matter of seconds. Whether that was a chip over the top of the defence or a defence-splitting pass, the halfback could deliver something special when he had no right to.
Despite spending just two seasons at Hull KR before making the move across the pond to fierce rivals FC, Albert Kelly was one of the most creative players to take the field for the Robins since Super League began. With an eye for a gap like few possess, Kelly crossed the line 23 times in 43 appearances and, despite off-field issues springing up, the halfback lit up the Super League in his spell at Rovers. Whilst with the Airlie Birds, Kelly scored 40 tries in 67 appearances, taking his earlier reputation as a devastating runner to new heights. Though off-field issues continued to plague the Australian, the halfback often let his feet do the talking on it.
The Maltese international joined Crusaders RL midway through the 2010 season and his skill and talent was immediate. Taking apart a Bradford side at the Magic Weekend, the livewire halfback chipped over the Bulls’ defence, regathered and jumped to gather the loose ball. It set Sammut on course for a reputation of a man that could make anything happen in the blink of an eye. Spells at Bradford, Wakefield, Workington, London and Wigan later and now Barrow and one could describe the playmaker as a journeyman. However, at each of these clubs, Sammut has demonstrated his natural flair and has perhaps been unlucky not to have nailed down a more permanent spot in the top-flight.