Super League has seen some formidable forwards in its 25 years, but there have been few sides able to successfully create a balanced forward pack. This list looks at the specific seasons in which a team had quality not only from 8 to 13, but throughout their squad, and was able to win some silverware as a result.
5. St. Helens 2019
The 2019 St. Helens forward pack was comfortably one of the best we have seen in recent seasons. With a variety of quality in both the front and back row, it was perfectly balanced. The front row had the combination of Alex Walmsley’s strength and Luke Thompson’s raw talent and energy, managed by James Roby. Their back row was similarly well-rounded. The experience of Zeb Taia and Dominique Peyroux at second row worked brilliantly with the then 22-year-old Morgan Knowles, who earned a Dream Team spot. All this quality was backed up from the bench by the likes of Kyle Amor, Matty Lees, LMS and Jack Ashworth. The forward pack would help Saints cruise to both a League Leaders’ Shield and Grand Final victory.
4. Wigan Warriors 2010
As has been the case with many Wigan forward packs, the 2010 side was very much no-nonsense. An experienced group of props, consisting of Stuart Fielden, Iafeta Paleaaesina and Andy Coley was spearheaded by both Mark Riddell and Michael McIlorum. They also had quality in the back row with the likes of Joel Tomkins, Harrison Hansen and Liam Farrell, as well as the legendary Sean O’Loughlin. Their heavily-physical approach to games relied upon a strong forward pack, and the approach paid off as they topped the table and beat bitter rivals St Helens in the Grand Final.
3. Leeds Rhinos 2015
2015 was a year that saw three iconic Leeds forwards depart from the club as Kylie Leuluai, Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield played their last season at the Rhinos. It was also the season in which I believe Leeds had their best ever forward pack. They still had legends including the three mentioned above with Carl Ablett, Jamie Jones Buchanan, Ryan Bailey, Stevie Ward and Rob Burrow as a stand in hooker. However, they were complemented by the addition of Dream Team member Adam Cuthbertson, as well as Mitch Achurch and Brett Delaney, which gave Leeds a deep and talented squad that went on to win the treble.
2. St. Helens 2006
The second Saints side in this list, and one that has similar strengths to one previously mentioned: a workman like hooker in Kieron Cunningham with sizeable props like Jason Cayless, Maurie Fa’asavalu and Paul Anderson, combined with a young prop in James Graham. They had an unrivalled ability to dominate field position with their elite level front rowers. Saints also boasted a back row of Jon Wilkin, Paul Sculthorpe and Lee Gilmour, who each had the ball skills of the average back, whilst still being able to take on the line. The side had some of the best forwards to ever play in Super League and we found out just how good they were as they collected all three major honours available.
1. Bradford 2003
Bradford’s 2003 side contains four players who have already featured in this list, including the most decorated Super League player of all time and 2003 Man of Steel winner, Jamie Peacock. They had a fearsome front row of Stuart Fielden, James Lowes and Joe Vagana, as well as solid options in Paul Anderson and Rob Parker. Their back row was no less impressive, with options including Lee Radford, Jamie Peacock, Lee Gilmour, Jamie Langley and Daniel Gartner. Like Saints in 2006, their squad was littered with generational talents. Many of whom were not only a part of their iconic treble winning side, but also went on to achieve major success elsewhere.