Our latest interactive feature on TotalRL.com is asking fans to get involved with a debate to find the greatest Super League Dream Team of all-time. There have been some remarkable players since the inception of the competition way back in 1996, and we’re hoping there will be plenty of debate.
In anticipation of the fan-chosen Dream Team going online early next week, our staff have had an attempt at picking a Super League Dream Team, with some of the team picking what they believe is the greatest ever XIII ever to step on a Super League field.
Be warned, there may be some controversial picks, and that is why we want you to have your say and get involved! Some of the calls were so tough that an honorable mention or two have been included, just to sit on the fence somewhat!
Full-back: Paul Wellens (St Helens)
An incredibly tough call to split the St Helens stalwart and Wigan legend Kris Radlinski, but Wellens gets the nod in this Dream Team largely due to his longevity. Super League’s record appearance holder could not have been left out of this side, having won every domestic honour available to him in an outstanding career. Even in 2014, Wellens shows no signs of letting up just yet, and could have a huge say in whether yet more silverware is added to the cupboard at Langtree Park this season. Tough to split the two men, but the iconic Wellens just gets the nod.
Right wing: Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos)
Hall is one of only three men in this side still playing in 2014, and he will surely go on and break a whole host of records before retiring – which is a good few years away yet. Dubbed the ‘World’s Best Winger’ by Rhinos fans, Hall’s try-scoring record is simply outstanding, and he more than deserves his place in the greatest Super League side of all-time. There were plenty of contenders to nudge him out of the position, including the likes of Brett Dallas and Pat Richards, but Hall is in the squad – but does he make yours? Let us know by getting involved with the debate.
Right centre: Jamie Lyon (St Helens)
He was only in Super League for a brief period, but the impact Jamie Lyon had on Super League – and St Helens – was so great that he joins Ryan Hall on the right wing in our Dream Team. He spent just two seasons in England after being picked up by the Saints following a spell with junior club Wee Waa Panthers back in Australia, and played a huge role in the Saints’ all-conquering side of 2006. Named Man of Steel in 2005, Lyon is without doubt one of the finest overseas imports ever to arrive in Super League, and is one of a select few that have gone back and dominated in the NRL.
Left centre: Shontayne Hape (Bradford Bulls)
Much like Jamie Lyon, Shontayne Hape arrived in Super League as a relative unknown to English fans – but he left as one of the greatest players ever to grace the modern game. A centre that perfectly complimented his winger (more on him next), Hape scored a phenomenal 110 tries in 136 appearances for the Bradford Bulls between 2003 and 2008, making his way into the club’s Team of The Century as a result. His partnership with Lesley Vainikolo was one of the greatest ever put together in the history of Rugby League – and certainly the finest in Super League history.
Left wing: Lesley Vainikolo (Bradford Bulls)
With Shontayne Hape making the cut in this Super League Dream Team, it would have been impossible to leave out his partner in crime. 152 games produced an incredible 149 tries for Bradford in a six-year spell that more than left its mark on the English game. When he arrived from Canberra in 2002, he endured a relatively slow start to life at the Bulls. However, ‘The Volcano’ well and truly erupted in 2003, as Bradford went on and won the Challenge Cup and the Super League Grand Final in the same season. Still playing rugby in France aged 35, Vainikolo has to be regarded as perhaps the greatest winger in the modern era – at least in Super League.
Stand-off: Henry Paul (Wigan Warriors/Bradford Bulls)
Perhaps the strongest candidate to knock Henry Paul out of contention for this illustrious side was in fact his own brother, Robbie. However, two dazzling spells with Wigan and Bradford in the modern era see Henry edge out his brother and make the cut. He scored 550 points for Wigan between 1994 and 1998, before briefly heading to Rugby Union and a year out of RL with Bath. However, he returned to the game in 1999 with Bradford, scoring an incredible amount of points. He notched 734 points in two seasons (2000 and 2001), and is regarded as one of the best halves to play in Super League.
Scrum-half: Sean Long (St Helens)
The man who won everything with St Helens was almost a certainty to be included in our Dream Team, especially given how he helped the Saints dominate the early years of Super League. So often the scourge of many teams in the modern era, Long’s pinpoint kicking game and mazy, weaving runs saw him enter the hearts of thousands of Saints fans all across the country. He scored an incredible 390 points in the 2000 season, as the Saints went on and won the Grand Final, beating arch-rivals Wigan 29-16. Two years later, Long kicked the drop-goal that sunk Bradford by a solitary point.
Prop: Stuart Fielden (Bradford Bulls/Wigan Warriors/Huddersfield Giants)
The front-row was perhaps the trickiest area to select, with some absolutely outstanding forwards playing in Super League over the years. However, the first inclusion is a man who was one quarter of Bradford’s ‘Awesome Fourseome’ – Stuart Fielden. He debuted in 1998, but quickly rose to prominence as one of the strongest, fittest forwards in the competition – often being able to play many more minutes than his opponents. Fielden won every domestic honour available with Bradford before later spells with Wigan and Huddersfield – and did enough to earn a place in Bradford’s ‘Team of The Century’ in 2007.
Hooker: Kieron Cunningham (St Helens)
The success of St Helens in the early days of Super League was built around their incredible spine – and that same spine composes the backbone of this Super League Dream Team. Joining Paul Wellens and Sean Long in the key positions is hooker Kieron Cunningham, who is perhaps the most iconic player in the history of the modern era. Famous for his typically barnstorming runs over the line from dummy-half to send Knowsley Road wild, Cunningham is another who won every domestic trophy available during his career, and he fights off competition from long-time rival James Lowes to make the cut.
Prop: Jamie Peacock (Bradford Bulls/Leeds Rhinos)
He started out as a second-rower that would win a whole host of domestic honours with Bradford, but Jamie Peacock’s transition to prop in the second half of his career has been nothing short of sensational. The former England captain joins ex-Bradford teammate Stuart Fielden in the front-row of this Dream Team, and is still going strong in 2014 – perhaps producing the best form of his entire career to keep Leeds challenging for honours at the right end of Super League. With no real signs of slowing down just yet, Peacock has plenty more to offer Super League before he calls it a day.
Second-row: Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors)
Wigan’s talismanic captain is not exempt from selection in this Dream Team – and he slots into the back-row of the side after a quite incredible career. Although injuries have plagued certain parts of his career, whenever O’Loughlin has been out on the field, Wigan have been a tough, resilient side to beat on many occasions. He has morphed into a loose-forward with serious class in recent years, and continues to be a shining example to the continual stream of youngsters that come through the ranks at the Wigan club. Ben Westwood came close to inclusion, but he couldn’t edge out O’Loughlin.
Second-row: Andy Farrell (Wigan Warriors)
It is an all-Wigan lockout in the back-row, as O’Loughlin is joined by perhaps the finest forward in Super League history – Andy Farrell. A goal-kicking extraordinaire with bags of talent and strength, Farrell was one of those rare breeds that simply had it all when it came to Rugby League. He scored an astonishing 425 points in the 2001 season – where Wigan lost out to Bradford in the Grand Final – and that record was only beaten by Pat Richards back in 2010. Included in six official Super League Dream Team selections, Farrell gets the same honour here, and joins Sean O’Loughlin in the back-row.
Loose-forward: Paul Sculthorpe (Warrington Wolves/St Helens)
Farrell could quite easily have been in the number 13 jersey here, as could plenty of others – including Leeds’ Kevin Sinfield. However, the final slot in this Super League Dream Team goes to another of St Helens’ key pivots – Paul Sculthorpe. He joined the club from Warrington in 1997, and had an almost immediate impact on the club. He went on and won every single honour available in the domestic game with the Saints across a stellar career at both club and international level, before being forced to retire back in 2008 due to injury – way too early.