In this week’s edition of Six of the Best, we’ve polled for you to tell us your outstanding Rugby League leaders from down the years. The concept of a strong leader in a side is often overlooked in sport, but in Rugby League, a captain is a crucial asset for any team.
And with all the talk surrounding captains in other sports this week – England soccer captain Steven Gerrard has quit the international scene, and England cricket captain Alistair Cook is under huge pressure – we thought we’d ask our loyal readers to tell us their talismanic skippers – be they past or even present.
We asked you over the last 48 hours for your suggestions on social media, and here are the six most popular choices!
Certainly a topical choice given his actions in Leeds’ recent game against Castleford, but Kevin Sinfield was overwhelmingly our most popular nominee on social media. Having captained Leeds to six Grand Final successes, he is perhaps the finest ever captain the Leeds club have ever had. Now England captain too, Sinfield’s leadership is often regarded as one of his best qualities. Will he captain the Rhinos to a seventh Grand Final this year?
Legendary Wigan skipper Andy Farrell received a lot of nominations from our readers on social media – and he certainly deserves them. A fine skipper for the great Wigan club throughout his Rugby League career, Farrell served the 13-man code with distinction before moving to Rugby Union late in his career. Captained Wigan in the inaugural Super League Grand Final, when they beat Leeds.
The man, the myth, the legend. Darren Lockyer has captained Brisbane, Queensland and the Australian national side to major success during his illustrious career, and he broke a barrage of records as skipper of all those sides. Nobody has captained the Kangaroos on more occasions than Lockyer, with the half-back wearing the armband on 38 occasions from 2003-2011. As well as that, he has won a multitude of State of Origin titles with the Maroons, and domestic honours with Brisbane too. Perhaps the finest captain of all-time?
Rugby League’s first black captain could not be excused from this list; largely due to the fact he captained Great Britain to World Cup glory! He led the British in the 1972 tournament against the rest of the world, and scored an incredibly memorable try in the final against Australia, running the length of the field. Served both Hull clubs with extreme distinction – and truly was an unbelievable captain.
Another modern-day nominee from our readers that got a lot of votes was Paul Sculthorpe. A supremely talented forward who had his career cruelly cut short by injury, Sculthorpe captained St Helens to a number of domestic honours during the mid-2000s. He also had the honour of captaining Great Britain – but on the field, he only led the side for less than half a game, due to a number of injury problems. Still regarded as one of the most talented players in Super League history – and a superb skipper to boot.
No list of great captains would be complete without the only man to captain two World Cup winning sides. For inspirational leaders, Brad Fittler should be written at the very top of the list. An Origin and international captain, Fittler’s captaincy of the outstanding Sydney Roosters side in the early 2000s was incredible – leading them to World Club Challenge glory on foreign soil. Fittler was brought out of retirement to play Origin two years after initially calling it a day; he scored a try in a New South Wales victory. Certainly one of the finest Australian halves of his time, Fittler’s captaincy was also inspirational and sensational.