Across the history of rugby league there’s been some brilliant try-scorers and in particular there’s been some brilliant individual try-scoring seasons, but who are the most prolific during the 27 seasons of Super League?
Obviously rugby league existed before Super League and some of the brilliant scoring seasons came prior to 1996, including Martin Offiah’s first two breakout years at Widnes when he tallied 42 in 35 and an incredible 57 in 40 during the late eighties.
Incredibly the record for most tries in a season is 80, which dates almost 110 seasons ago back to the 1913-1914 season when Albert Rosenfeld of Huddersfield put up the astonishing figure.
For this article though it’s strictly Super League and the ranking is determined by the try to game ratio, for example Offiah’s aforementioned seasons would rank at 1.2 and 1.425 tries per game.
Only regular season games and tries are accounted for in this list on the basis that in years where systems such as the Super Eights was used, a further seven games were added per team, whereas in some seasons the playoffs only created a further two fixtures. To avoid any confusion across the seasons these try totals simply account for the standard end of season table, prior to any playoffs.
8. Josh Charnley (2012) – 1.19 tries per game
Across the 27 game season Charnley missed just one game but still put up an incredible 31 tries as Wigan squeezed out Warrington for the League Leaders shield. The efforts of Charnley were often aided by the assist king and Man of Steel Sam Tomkins, who registered a huge 29 tries and 33 assists to come second to Charnley in the scoring charts.
7. Lesley Vainikolo (2005) – 1.31 tries per game
The 2005 season was the last Super League title that Bradford Bulls won and one of the integral parts to that was Vainikolo. The New Zealand international was electric with 25 tries in just 19 games, missing nine games sadly. Even so he still went at an incredible scoring rate and topped it off with a try in the Grand Final to mark the Bulls’ most recent victory at Old Trafford in the big game.
6. Denny Solomona (2016) – 1.33 tries per game
The man that many were expecting to top this list but due to the Super Eights format existing during this season, 12 of his 40 total tries don’t count towards this list. Even so he scored an impressive 28 in 21 in just his second season at Wheldon Road. As referenced he does hold the record for most tries in a Super League season with 40 in 28 but benefitted from a now disused system. Solomona wouldn’t stay in Super League beyond this season as he switched to union, and now aged still only 29 plays his rugby union at the provincial level in his home city of Auckland.
5. Paul Newlove (1996) – 1.4 tries per game
All the way back to the inaugural Super League season and Paul Newlove of St Helens who scored an impressive 28 tries across the 22 game season, even more impressive was that he only played in 20 of those games meaning he registered seven tries for every five games. That impressive figure helped Saints lift the first ever Super League title.
4. Danny McGuire (2004) – 1.44 tries per game
The Leeds Rhinos’ legend just misses out on the top three of this list coming in with an impressive 36 tries in just 25 games played. McGuire missed three of Rhinos’ games and had he played then the 21-year-old could have potentially broken the 40 try mark. McGuire’s incredible breakout year saw Leeds lift the title and the Grand Final as well, claiming a first Super League title against Bradford Bulls with McGuire scoring again in the 16-8 victory.
3. Lesley Vainikolo (2004) – 1.5 tries per game
The first and only man to feature twice on this list, and also the first and only season to boast two players. Lesley Vainikolo appears again, this time a season earlier than his 25 try campaign of 2005 with another 36 try campaign just like McGuire. Vainikolo pips McGuire into the top three on account that he played one game less which gives him a ratio of three tries every two games, or 1.5 tries per game. Sadly for Vainikolo, as mentioned above, the Bulls lost in this final despite the powerful winger scoring.
2. Greg Eden (2017) – 1.54 tries per game
One of just two players on this list, alongside the man in the number one slot, who still represent the side with which they topped the scoring charts and it’s Castleford Tigers veteran Greg Eden, who upon returning to Wheldon Road racked up an incredible 34 tries in 22 games. Similar to the other Castleford player on this list, Eden’s unbelievable scoring came during the Super Eights era. However whilst Solomona’s tries per game suffered with the regular season criteria ignoring those additional seven games, Eden prospers as he actually only added a further four tries during those seven games.
1. Bevan French (2022) – 1.55 tries per game
Beating out Eden by the smallest of margins is the reigning top try scorer and the current favourite to top the charts again in 2023, it’s Bevan French. This won’t be a huge surprise to many given that the Wigan winger’s try-scoring antics are still relatively fresh in the mind but having missed the first six games of the season, and receiving a rest in round 26, the 26-year-old Australian tallied 31 in just 20 games with the highlight being his record-breaking seven try performance against Hull FC. Priced at 8/1 to top the charts for 2023 he’s expected to score plenty in a free-flowing Wigan side but surely he can’t beat this impressive feat of over three tries for every two games.