With the season currently suspended, we decided to go ahead and pick what we think is the greatest XIII to have played in the Super League era.
1. Paul Wellens
Mr. Consistency. Wellens played 500 games for St Helens over 18 years and was the club’s regular fullback throughout this time. Safe under the high ball, solid in defence and always in the right places at the right time, few could match his knowhow and durability. Wellens won five Super League titles and five Challenge Cups with Saints, while also becoming only the third player in history to win the Lance Todd, Harry Sunderland and Steve Prescott Man of Steel trophies.
2. Jason Robinson
‘Billy Whizz’ was one of the greatest wingers to ever play in Super League and there were few more exciting players to watch. His famous try in the 1998 Grand Final will never be forgotten, helping Wigan lift the Super League title at Old Trafford. Robinson spent another couple of years at the Warriors, averaging a try a game, before switching codes and winning the World Cup with England.
3. Jamie Lyon
The Australian international joined St Helens in 2005 and even though he only played in two Super League seasons, his raw ability, pace and strength was stamped on the competition. He won the 2005 Man of Steel award and played a major part in helping Saints win the treble in 2006 – scoring 22 tries and kicking 164 conversions which earned him a place in the Super League Dream Team for the second year in a row. Lyon had it all and despite his short time in England, he will go down as a Saints legend.
4. Keith Senior
The fearsome centre enjoyed a superb 17-year career and was a huge fan-favourite within Super League. After helping Sheffield win the Challenge Cup with their upset win over Wigan, Senior signed for Leeds in 1999 and went on to score 171 tries and win multiple honours with the club. The Great Britain and England star possessed pace, power and would dominate his opposite number in almost every game he played. Senior will deservedly go down as one of the all-time greats.
5. Lesley Vainikolo
‘Big Les’ made his Super League debut in 2002 when he joined Bradford Bulls and he quickly became one of the Super League’s most recognisable players. Part of the ‘Bullmania’ revolution under Brian Noble, Vainikolo was unstoppable from pretty much anywhere on the pitch and had a prolific try-scoring record. The ‘Volcano’ ended his time at the Bulls with 149 tries in 152 games and will be remembered as one of Super League’s biggest cult heroes.
6. Danny McGuire
The eight-time Super League winner retied at the end of 2019 and will go down as one of the competition’s greatest ever players. Pace, agility and skill that few can match, McGuire is Super League’s all-time top try-scorer and was part of the Rhinos golden generation from start to finish. He won 16 trophies in 17 years at Leeds, before the two-time Harry Sunderland winner bowed out with a couple of seasons at Hull KR, guiding them to Super League safety.
7. Sean Long
Long is one of Super League’s all-time great characters and is certainly a legend of the sport. He won every domestic honour in the game at St Helens and possessed incredible natural ability, often seeing things no one else could on the pitch. He had the skill to not only manage a game, but produce his best under pressure, especially in the final minutes, helping Saints win many a game. Long’s flamboyant style in both life and rugby often caught the eye and for a sustained period in the early noughties, he was the competition’s best player.
8. Adrian Morley
A legend of both Super League and the NRL, ‘Moz’ was unstoppable at his peak and was consistently one of the best forwards in the game for almost two decades. His aggressive and intimidating style was unrelenting, making huge metres, while hitting hard in defence, and even though his best days were arguably in Australia, Morley still managed to play well over 350 Super League games for Leeds, Bradford, Warrington and Salford.
9. Keiron Cunningham
Just pipping his former St Helens teammate James Roby to the hooking role, Cunningham left an incredible legacy at Knowsley Road. He will be best remembered for his strength, fitness and crafty play around the ruck, scoring many a try with his power plays close to the line. ‘Kez’ tormented defences throughout his 500 Saints appearances, helping the club win four Super League titles and seven Challenge Cups in the process.
10. Jamie Peacock
Super League’s most successful ever player, ‘JP’ was a warrior of the sport for two decades and ended his career with an astonishing 22 major trophies. It’s rare you can be a legend at both Bradford and Leeds but Peacock is just that, with his determination, leadership and never-say-die attitude helping both clubs enjoy unprecedented success in the 2000s and 2010s. Winning his ninth Super League title aged 38, Peacock’s kind will be rarely seen again and his willingness to do the hard yards and the ugly parts of the game for so many years can only be admired.
11. Chris Joynt
“It’s wide to West, and inside to Joynt, Joynt, Joynt, Joynt!” The most famous try of the Super League era was scored by this man and it sometimes overshadows the fact he was an incredible player, leader and model of consistency. Undoubtedly a St Helens legend, the back-rower played over 350 games for the club, winning three Super League titles along the way. Joynt was a big-game player, made for the pressure moments, and he left a huge whole at the club when he retired in 2004.
12. Gareth Ellis
Ellis moved into the pack during his last years with Wakefield and has not looked back since. His form earned him a big move to Leeds where he became the club’s standout back-rower, winning two Super League titles before joining NRL side Wests Tigers. He returned home to captain Hull FC to back-to-back Challenge Cup triumphs and is still going now at the age of 38. One of the games’ biggest hitters and post-contact metre-makers, Ellis never puts in a bad performance and is the ideal modern-day role model.
13. Sean O’Loughlin
Sure to raise a few eyebrows, O’Loughlin gets in the team at loose forward ahead of Kevin Sinfield, Paul Sculthorpe and Andy Farrell. ‘Lockers’ made his Super League debut in 2002 and has captained Wigan for the last 15 years, helping the club return to their former glories. The kind of player every coach wants, the now 37-year-old is in his final season but still continues to put in the huge hits and strong carries he has throughout a trophy-laden career. Also with the ability to play at stand-off and be one of the most creative players on the pitch, O’Loughlin has it all and will be aiming to bow out in style at the end of this year.