Farewell to Rugby League’s greatest maverick

After seven-and-a-half years of highs and lows, Rangi Chase’s time as British Rugby League’s greatest enigma has come to an end.

Mesmeric at his best and infuriating at his worst, one thing you cannot criticise Chase of is his inability to get us talking. In fact, Chase is arguably the most talked about player in Super League history; his electric performances have lit up stadia around the country while he has also flattered to deceive on countless occasions too.

But irrespective of your own personal opinion on his abilities, it is very hard to argue that on his day, Chase was the most gifted individual these shores have seen in many, many years.

Who could forget the dazzling performances that saw him win the Albert Goldthorpe Medal and Man of Steel in 2011? Or the number of audaciously good pieces of skill that have not only cut open opposition defences but left them embarrassed too.

There are critics of Chase who are quick to chastise him for several flaws, whether that be on or off the field. But ultimately with individual accolades and international honours, can anyone really doubt the quality of his career?

Many will rightly point out that he never enjoyed success with a team, with some even highlighting his departure from Castleford as the reason for their improvement since 2014. There’s perhaps some credibility to it, but the level of interest in the New Zealand-born star tells you how special a talent he really was.

Although it is disappointing to know Chase won’t be around anytime soon, it’s greatly satisfying to know he is on the road to a better place mentally. In an interview today, the 30-year-old revealed he is in the happiest place in his life after getting back together with his wife, with their break-up a year ago putting him in a self-confessed ‘dark place’ while at Salford last year.

After his exit from Salford, Leigh’s decision to sign him proved to be a gamble that didn’t come off, however those mocking the Centurions and their recruitment are short-sighted. The influence their recent signings have had on the club, such as Micky Higham, Harrison Hansen and Dayne Weston, is significant, and even without Chase, Leigh are still capable of being a Super League team by 2017.

The Centurions will move on. The greatest trait currently showcased by Neil Jukes’ side is their resilience. People said they wouldn’t survive after Paul Rowley’s departure, the same was said after Ryan Brierley moved to Huddersfield, but they continue to dominate the Championship.

Will they make Super League? Who knows, but writing them off at this point is unwise.