RANKING the five greatest Super League signings in history is quite a difficult task.
Considering that the summer game has been around for 26 years, a number of incredible talents have come and gone with some leaving lasting legacies at their respective clubs.
Having said that, there are some players that will forever be remembered by everyone in the game that went to a new club and delivered emphatically.
Here are the five greatest recruits of the Super League era.
5 Lee Briers
Confused? Don’t be – Lee Briers did not come through the Warrington academy. In fact, the halfback first came onto the Super League scene with St Helens in 1997, playing just six games before being signed by the Wolves. The rest, they say, is history with Briers enjoying 16 fruitful years at first Wilderspool and then the Halliwell Jones Stadium. More than 2,500 points and 425 games later, the Welsh international retired in 2013 due to a neck injury having guided the Wolves to three Challenge Cup successes. The respect that Briers commands is evident by the fact that he helped the Wigan Warriors to their first Challenge Cup win under Matt Peet in his first year as assistant coach.
4 Sean Long
Another, like Lee Briers, who didn’t begin his career at the club where he made his name. This time Sean Long signed for St Helens from Widnes back in 1997. A Man of Steel winner in 2000, Long became one of Super League’s greatest ever halfbacks, registering 124 tries and 812 goals in 12 years at Saints. If his individual haul wasn’t good enough then his collective trophy cabinet of four Super League titles, six Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges justifies his place in the top five. Long would later have a spell at Hull FC before moving into coaching. He is now head coach of Featherstone Rovers following his exit from Leeds Rhinos.
3 Paul Sculthorpe
Possibly one of the greatest and toughest playmakers ever seen in Super League, Paul Sculthorpe began his career with the Warrington Wolves, earning a place in the inaugural Super League Dream Team in 1996 before moving to St Helens ahead of the 1998 season for a £375,000 fee. Sculthorpe would make almost 150 appearances for Saints and in the process help the Merseyside club to four Super League titles, five Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges. Sculthorpe also won the Man of Steel award back-to-back in 2001 and 2002, becoming the first player to ever do so. If his services to rugby league were ever possibly understated, the Lancastrian was awarded an MBE in 2013.
2 Jamie Lyon
Has there ever been a Super League signing that has had such a big impact in such a short space of time as Jamie Lyon? Despite being at St Helens for just two seasons, Lyon became a cult hero amongst the terraces at Knowsley Road. Signing from NRL side Parramatta Eels ahead of the 2005 season, the centre settled in seamlessly, winning the Man of Steel in that year with 22 tries and 42 goals. Lyon was critical in Saints’ treble-winning success the following season too, scoring 22 tries and kicking 163 goals in just 32 matches. Despite returning to the NRL at the end of the 2006 season, Lyon will forever be remembered at the Merseyside club.
1 Jamie Peacock
It couldn’t really be anyone else other then Jamie Peacock at number one. Having already tasted success with Bradford Bulls over a seven-year period, Peacock moved to the Leeds Rhinos where he has forever etched his name in the history books. Over the course of ten seasons, Peacock helped the West Yorkshire side to six Super League titles, two Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges. Such was his impact on the game that in 2012 his contribution to the sport had received national attention – he was awarded an MBE.