The depth of talent available to England in a Rugby League World Cup year is reflected in the 2013 Super League Dream Team which for the first time in its history comprises 13 English players.
The 2013 Dream Team features 12 Englishmen plus Danny Brough, the Dewsbury-born Huddersfield Giants stand-off who captained Scotland in the 2008 World Cup and who is set to lead the Bravehearts in Rugby League World Cup 2013.
The prevalence of English talent is a testimony to the significant investment in player development by the Super League clubs over the last decade, as well as the success of initiatives such as club-trained and federation-trained rules. The absence of any overseas players comes 12 years after the 2001 Dream Team included just four England players.
This year’s star-studded line-up features nine Dream Team debutants as well as reigning Super League Man of Steel Sam Tomkins and former England captain Jamie Peacock, who has had an outstanding year with defending champions Leeds Rhinos.
Peacock, 35, last appeared in the Dream Team in 2009 and has now made a record nine appearances in the team of the year.
The youngest player selected is Ben Crooks, the 20-year-old Hull FC centre who was just seven years of age when Peacock made his Dream Team bow in 2000. Crooks’s dynamic and productive club partnership with Tom Lineham also sees the 21-year-old named on the wing.
Huddersfield Giants, who ended the regular season on top of the table for the first time in 81 years, have most representatives in the Dream Team with five – centre Leroy Cudjoe, stand-off Brough, prop Eorl Crabtree, hooker Shaun Lunt and second row Brett Ferres.
Tetley’s Challenge Cup holders Wigan Warriors have four players in the Dream Team – full-back Sam Tomkins, winger Josh Charnley, scrum-half Matty Smith and loose forward Sean O’Loughlin.
The only player named in the Dream Team who is not involved in the Super League play-offs that kick off this weekend is second row Danny Kirmond, who has been the stand-out performer for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in 2013.
The Super League Dream Team is selected by a panel of the sport’s broadcasters and journalists in a secret ballot and represents the form team of the Super League season.
In 2001, the Super League Dream Team’s four England players were Kris Radlinski, Paul Sculthorpe, Jamie Peacock and Andy Farrell. A seven-strong overseas contingent was augmented by Wales hooker Keiron Cunningham and Ireland prop Terry O’Connor.