13 of the best NRL exports to play in Super League

With Ben Barba lighting up Super League, we’ve had a look at 13 of the best NRL exports to have played in the UK over the past two decades.

There are of course many that haven’t made the list below (Trent Barrett! – Ed), so let us know your own favourites in the comments below.

Brent Webb

“Brent Webb is Superman” became a familiar chorus sang by the south stand faithful at Headingley. The Kiwi international joined from the New Zealand Warriors in time for the 2007 Super League season and burst straight on to the scene. His first season would see the former fullback finish as the West Yorkshire side’s top try scorer with 24. Although, he would be hampered by injuries, Webb still had six seasons with the Rhinos that were certainly filled with glory. By 2014, he had made 162 appearances along with 92 tries, securing four Super League titles to go with a World Club Challenge honour.

Jamie Lyon

Another player who made a spectacular beginning to his Super League career. After joining from the Parramatta Eels in 2005, Lyon quickly established himself as a force in the league, awarded the Man of Steel thanks to his exceptional performances. After praises from both the media and fans, the former Australian international did not stop there as he claimed resident goal-kicking duties from Paul Sculthorpe in 2006, along with becoming an integral part of the Saints side that won the Super League crown as well as the Challenge Cup.

Brett Hodgson

The former West Tigers and Parramatta Eels player made the switch to Super League in 2009, joining the Huddersfield Giants. Similar to Lyon, Hodgson’s solid first season with the Giants saw him claim the Man of Steel award after leading the West Yorkshire side to the Challenge Cup final as well as third in the league. After two seasons with the Giants, Hodgson made the move to Warrington enjoying a fine amount of success, leading the West Yorkshire side to a League Leader’s shield in 2011 as well as Challenge Cup victory in 2012.

Pat Richards

As another former Man of Steel winner, Richards made his mark on Super League thanks to his invaluable goal kicking and try scoring ability. The former Irish international joined from NRL side West Tigers in 2006, quickly cementing himself as one of the league’s most prolific wingers. Together with two Super League titles and two Challenge Cups, Richards would amount over 2,600 points in his eight seasons with the Cherry and Whites, with 176 tries and 971 goals.

Luke Dorn

Arguably the most prolific overseas signing in the Super League era, Dorn to this day still holds the club record at London Broncos for most tries in the clubs’ history. The former Castleford man unfortunately fell short in his quest for silverware but his 170 tries throughout his British rugby league career put him inside the top ten all time Super League top try scorer’s list.

Adrian Lam

The former Papa New Guinea captain spent four seasons with the Wigan Warriors and although he was unsuccessful in his attempts to win a Super League crown, his impact and influence was still clear to see. In his first two seasons he took Wigan to a Grand Final and a Challenge Cup victory in 2002. After four years, Lam made 119 appearances for the Cherry and Whites along with scoring 44 tries.

Lesley Vainikolo

Is there any doubt that this man was one of the fiercest and most dominant outside backs in Super League history? If you wanted to get in his way you better have known what you were doing that is for sure. The nickname ‘volcano’ was certainly befitting of the former Bradford Bulls winger as on a consistent basis would bulldoze his way over the try line. In a six season stretch, Vainikolo claimed two Super League crowns (2003 and 2005) to go alongside a Challenge Cup win in 2003 and three World Club Challenges (2002, 2004 and 2006). By the time of his departure the former Kiwi international had scored 145 tries in 149 appearances for the Bulls, with 36 coming in a then record-breaking season in 2004.

Ali Lauti’iti

The Samoan second-rower spent eight seasons with a rampant Leeds Rhinos side between the years of 2004 and 2011 after joining from the New Zealand Warriors. Even though he would take time to settle in, Lauti’iti became a key part of the Rhinos side that won the 2004 Super League Grand Final as well as three successive Super League titles between 2007 and 2009. A forward with undeniably incredible ball handling skills would go on to make 200 appearances for Leeds along with scoring 64 tries.

Thomas Leuluai

After two quiet seasons with the New Zealand Warriors, Leuluai made the cross over to England, signing for the London Broncos in 2005. After a season with both the Broncos and Harlequins, Leuluai would eventually find a home with the Wigan Warriors and eventually established himself as one Super League most prominent half-back/hookers. Leuluai went on to help the Warriors secure their first Super League title since 1998 in 2010, earning the Harry Sunderland Trophy in the process along with claiming the Challenge Cup in 2011.

Kylie Leuluai

The cousin of Thomas spent eight seasons in NRL before joining Leeds Rhinos in 2007, where alongside the likes of Kevin Sinfield and Danny McGuire, he claimed six Super League crowns between 2007 and 2015. After deciding against retirement on several occasions, Leuluai decided to hang up his boots in 2015, establishing himself as a cult hero amongst the Rhinos faithful.

Steve Renouf

After 11 prolific seasons with the Brisbane Broncos, Renouf jumped ship to Super League in 2000. Despite only two seasons with the Wigan Warriors, Renouf’s impact was nothing short of magical, making the Grand Final on both occasions. Even despite consecutive Grand final losses, over the course of the 2000 and 2001 Super League seasons the former Australian international went on to make 59 appearances alongside scoring 43 tries.

Francis Meli

The powerful Samoan winger quickly became a huge offensive force during his eight seasons with St. Helens. Meli joined from the NZ Warriors in 2006 and quickly made his presence felt, winning the Super League and Challenge Cup in his first season with the Red V. His first three years continued in a similar vein, collecting three Challenge Cup medals in total as well as claiming a World Club Challenge victory in 2007. By 2013, Meli had showcased an incredible knack for scoring tries with 156 in 241 appearances for the Saints.

Willie Talau

Another NRL export who became a huge offensive weapon for the Saints in the mid-2000s, leaving his mark in the process. Not long after joining St. Helens in 2003, Talau scored a brace in the 2004 Challenge Cup final before going to score in both the Saints 2006 Super League and Challenge Cup victories. After six seasons with the Lancashire side, Talau had commandeered a Super League crown to go with four Challenge Cup victories.

Who do you think are the best players from the NRL to play in Super League? Let us know in the comments below.

1 Comment

  1. Very hard to pick who was the best NRL import. They all arrived in the Super League with their own special talents. For me it’s hard to go past Leslie Vainikolo. I ca only go from the Super League matches that were on pay tv. Every time Lesley got the ball the crowd rose to their feet as well as all aussies watching it on tv. Coke tomorrow I’ll probably pick another favourite. Really theirs just too many great players to say any of these guys are clearly the best of them but big Lesley was my favorite player in English Rugby League.

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