In nearly 25 years of Super League we have seen some exceptional overseas talent, but who emerges as the cream of the crop? Here are our top 10…
10. Adrian Vowles
Vowles became a household name after joining Castleford from North Queensland in 1997. He was an instant hit at the Jungle and became the first Tigers player to win the Man of Steel award in 1999. The Queensland-born loose forward also had brief stints with Leeds and Wakefield but will be remembered as a Cas legend.
9. Ali Lauitiiti
Joined Leeds at the start of the golden era and became a cult hero at Headingley. Once dubbed the Michael Jordan of rugby league, Lauitiiti’s huge hands made the ball look like a peanut and his expert handling produced some extraordinary moments. The New Zealander was a much-loved character and helped the Rhinos win multiple trophies.
8. Trent Barrett
Only spent two seasons in Super League but what an influence Barrett had on an average Wigan team at the time. The Blues and Kangaroos legend set the competition alight with his mesmeric passing and kicking skills, averaging almost a try every other game for the cherry and whites. He single-handedly got the Warriors to within 80 minutes of Old Trafford in 2007 and should have won the Man of Steel award.
7. Thomas Leuluai
Leuluai makes this list because of his consistency, longevity and ability. Still going strong now at 34, the menacing Kiwi has spent the majority of his career at Wigan and has 300 Super League appearances to his name. Equally talented at half-back and hooker, Leuluai has become famous for his hard-hitting defence and has played a key role in helping the Warriors win their fair share of silverware over the last decade.
6. Kylie Leuluai
Another Leuluai next up in the shape of Leeds legend Kylie. An unknown quantity when he signed for the Rhinos in 2007, the bulky prop soon settled into life at Headingley and was renowned for his relentless go-forward and huge defence. He went on to become the club’s longest-serving and most successful overseas player of all-time, bowing out by winning the treble in 2015.
5. Robbie Hunter-Paul
After moving over from New Zealand aged 18, few could have predicted the impact Hunter-Paul would have at Bradford. Quick, creative and prolific, he became a huge part of the Bullmania revolution and scored 224 tries in 241 appearances. Paul enjoyed a trophy-laden career, won many individual accolades and appeared 29 times for the Kiwis.
4. Henry Paul
Just edging out his brother into fourth place is Henry Paul. The mercurial stand-off was unplayable on his day and won an unprecedented amount of silverware for both Wigan and Bradford. The Kiwi playmaker saved his best for the big matches and won both the Harry Sunderland and Lance Todd Trophies during his time with the Bulls.
3. Pat Richards
Richards amassed a staggering 2468 points during a sensational eight-year spell at Wigan. The towering Australian winger was an expert finisher, unbeatable in the air and possessed arguably the biggest boot Super League has seen. He enjoyed many standout years with the Warriors, with the 2010 season a particular highlight as he was deservedly named Man of Steel.
2. Lesley Vainikolo
‘The volcano’ signed for Bradford in 2002 and lived up to his nickname with an explosive six-year stint in Super League. The powerhouse winger scored 149 tries in 152 games for the Bulls and was dangerous from anywhere on the pitch. Vainikolo was a fearsome character and a cult hero of the competition during the early noughties.
1. Jamie Lyon
Lyon’s impact on Super League was quite staggering when you consider he was only here for two seasons. The maverick centre won the 2005 Man of Steel award and played a major part in helping St Helens win the treble in 2006. He ended his Saints career with 46 tries, 202 goals and 586 points from only 63 appearances. A truly world class player who has achieved greatness on both sides of the world.