Being able to kick the ball well in-field is one of the best skills that a player can have. Not only does it enable a team to get downfield, it also has the consequence of robbing the opposition from sticking to their game plan.
Over the years there are many players who have been excellent in-field managers of play but which could be seen as the top 5 out of all of that talent?
The list below is a suggestion of what that list could look like.
5. Andy Farrell
A fountain of rugby knowledge, Andy Farrell is one of the most respected players in both codes of the game. He is now plying his trade very well as head coach of Ireland – which was well demonstrated in the recent Six Nations competition and before that he was defensive coach for England and Ireland also. But, to Rugby League fans, he is a Wigan legend. A 16-year-old debutant with the Warriors in the early nineties, he quickly made himself known as a young man with huge potential. This was rewarded when he was given the captaincy of the Great Britain team for the 1996 Lions tour at just 21 years of age. In terms of his in-field kicking in the era of Super League, he was devastating and was always there to tackle the opposition player if Wigan didn’t regain possession. A fantastic goal kicker no doubt, but his tactics on the field led the Warriors to victory many times.
4. Sean Long
Sean Long’s career has been one of major highs and a few lows but he is still rightly considered as one of the best players ever to play the game. The classic St Helens Super League team boasted this man from 1997 to 2009 and his skills were fully utilised, often to the dismay of the opposition. He scored over 2,000 points for Saints and his in-field kicking was exemplary for any player. Without doubt, he helped Saints to many of their final appearances and is a true Rugby League great.
3. Lee Briers
The Welsh and Great Britain international was a menace for the opposition to defend against. At his sixteen years with the Wolves, Briers was one of the biggest threats to any other Super League club. As equally adept a goal kicker as he was prolific drop-goal kicker, kicks could come from anywhere at any time. Lee Briers was one of the best kickers the game has ever seen, combining excellent game management with situational awareness.
2. Paul Deacon
The current Sale Sharks coach had spells with Bradford and Wigan but it is his time with the Bulls where he is best known. He was a true threat to anyone and fully made up for his diminutive size with his larger than life kicking game. An integral part of the heyday of Bradford Bulls, Paul Deacon was one of the key players in Super League at that time. After spending a lot of time on the side lines after a truly horrific head/facial injury whilst on international duty, he joined Wigan and still employed his well-known skill to a high standard, but it is with Bradford where he truly shone. He holds a space on Bradford’s Team of the Century and it is easy to see why.
1. Kevin Sinfield
Kevin Sinfield is without doubt one of the greatest players to ever step on a rugby field. He has done it all, seen it all and there was not one aspect of his game that was lacking. He was also one of the most selfless players too, often shying away from glory in favour of his team mates, but obviously his role as captain at the Rhinos didn’t allow him to do this all the time. Leeds were always able to play well in the rain, in fact, they won a World Club Challenge against Melbourne Storm in atrocious conditions, and the biggest factor of why that was, was because of Sinfield and his game management. His kicking game under pressure trumped every single other kicker in Super League and because of this, Leeds were able to play rugby on their terms, no one else’s. Not enough can be said about the superior excellence of Sinfield and his kicking ability, in field or at goal, should be the benchmark of every other Rugby League player.