An ultimate 13 of rugby league players born in Halifax including Wigan Warriors stars

Aaron Bower

Throughout the summer at Love Rugby League, we’re going to be taking a geographical tour of some of rugby league’s most famous towns and cities and compiling some dream line-ups comprising of active players.

Some places will unsurprisingly throw out star-studded sides with some of the best players in the world included. But some may surprise you about the quality of stars the area has produced: and we’re starting with one such example.

Halifax is far from the biggest place in the world in terms of size, but on the rugby league landscape, it certainly has contributed more than most. Here’s our ultimate 13 of players born or raised in the West Yorkshire town..

1. Jake Connor

Jake Connor Huddersfield Giants SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Arguably one of the most famous players to hail from Halifax is Huddersfield and England superstar Jake Connor. Never one to shy away about how proud he is of his roots, Connor has frequently spoke of his upbringing in Halifax.

In fact, he gives back to the local rugby league community to this very day: he is assistant coach at Siddal ARLFC. Not a bad role model to learn from – particularly if you’re fond of the dark arts.

2. Niall Evalds

Niall Evalds Hull KR Alamy
Niall Evalds in action for Hull KR

Evalds has spent the majority of his career outside of West Yorkshire, having started in the setup at Salford Red Devils – and he is now thriving at fullback for Hull KR.

The 30-year-old actually had a short-lived stint at Halifax on loan in 2017 – but his most famous rugby league feat in the town? Scoring a hat-trick for Salford in a vital Qualifiers win at The Shay during the Super 8s era.

3. Jake Wardle

Jake Wardle Wigan Warriors Alamy
Jake Wardle applauds the Wigan Warriors supporters following a game in 2024

Wardle is a product of the junior setup at another of Halifax’s most respected clubs, Illingworth ARLFC. He and brother Joe both played there before Jake signed professional terms at Huddersfield as a teenager.

He has since gone on to become one of the best centres in Super League under the guidance and stewardship of Matt Peet at Wigan Warriors.

4. Alex Mellor

Alex Mellor
Alex Mellor celebrates a Castleford Tigers win in 2024

Mellor was born and raised in the West Yorkshire town, but actually began his rugby league journey in the junior setup of Halifax’s biggest rivals, Bradford Bulls.

He has since gone on to play for Huddersfield Giants, Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers, the club with whom he still plays for to this day.

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5. Ethan Ryan

Ethan Ryan
Salford Red Devils’ Ethan Ryan is interviewed by Sky Sports having won man of the match in their win against Warrington Wolves in Round 9 of the 2024 Super League season

Much like Mellor, Ryan came through the academy system at Bradford, having spent time at junior clubs such as West Bowling in the Bradford district, too.

6. Riley Dean

Riley Dean Warrington Wolves Alamy

Now plying his trade in Australia, Dean was another who came through the highly-rated junior system at Siddal.

He also featured for Wembley as a youngster in a Champions Schools final for Brooksbank, a school based in Halifax.

7. Gareth Widdop

Halifax Panthers’ Gareth Widdop.

Yes, the majority of his career – and indeed life – may have been spent in Australia. But Widdop was initially born and raised in the West Yorkshire town of Halifax, and he even spent time in the junior setup of King Cross ARLFC.

Widdop has come full circle, fulfilling the dreams of his family members in signing for his hometown club this season. A proud Halifax lad without question.

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8. Tyler Dupree

Tyler Dupree
Wigan Warriors’ Tyler Dupree

It’s an all-Siddal front row in our team of Halifax-born rugby league superstars, starting with Wigan Warriors prop Dupree – who went back to his junior club for a recent Super League documentary about his upbringing.

9. Kruise Leeming

Kruise Leeming Wigan Warriors Alamy
Kruise Leeming of Wigan Warriors

Okay, okay. Leeming was born in Swaziland. However, his family relocated to England when he was young, and they settled in Halifax. Leeming is another who is a proud graduate of the Siddal academy, and has given his time back to the leading amateur club to this day.

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10. Tom Holroyd

Tom Holroyd Leeds Rhinos Alamy
Tom Holroyd returns for Leeds this week

Yet another product from Siddal! Holroyd and Dupree actually spent time together coming through the age groups together in Halifax – with Holroyd going on to become a firm fixture in Leeds Rhinos‘ first team in recent years.

11. Matty Nicholson

Matty Nicholson Warrington Wolves Alamy

Nicholson is earning rave reviews for his performances at Warrington Wolves this year, and despite having come through the Wigan Warriors academy, Nicholson emerged through the junior ranks at.. you guessed it, Siddal.

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12. Morgan Gannon

Morgan Gannon
Morgan Gannon in action for Leeds – Alamy

Another product of Siddal ARLFC, Gannon burst onto the scene in 2021 with Leeds Rhinos and immediately earned rave reviews for his performances.

He is currently sidelined with concussion issues – but we can’t wait to see him back on the field taking Super League by storm soon.

13. Morgan Smithies

Morgan Smithies Canberra Raiders Alamy

We might as well finish with another Siddal academy graduate in the pack! Ever since joining the Wigan scholarship from amateur club Siddal in 2015, Smithies has earned a reputation as one of the best forwards in the world game – underlined by his move to Canberra Raiders last winter.

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