Exclusive: Leigh Leopards powerhouse Robbie Mulhern makes ‘pretty cool’ history in England’s test series win over Tonga

Ben Olawumi
Robbie Mulhern, Tonga

Leigh Leopards star Robbie Mulhern in action for England against Tonga - Alamy

Leigh Leopards forward Robbie Mulhern wants to be the first of many players from the club to don the England jersey, after making his return on the international stage against Tonga and creating some ‘pretty cool’ history.

Prop Mulhern featured at loose yesterday for Shaun Wane’s side as they swept aside the Pacific visitors at Headingley, running out 26-4 winners and securing a 3-0 series whitewash in the process.

Having been called up by Wane, the Leeds-born ace had to sit out the first two tests against the Tongans, in St Helens and Huddersfield respectively, with NRL star Tom Burgess and Saints’ Matty Lees preferred for the eight and 10 roles.

Nonetheless, having picked up a first England cap since 2018 in his home city, history was made by Mulhern who also has five appearances to his name for Ireland.

Exclusive: Leigh Leopards powerhouse Robbie Mulhern discusses ‘pretty cool’ history made by England return

When he ran out at Headingley yesterday, the 29-year-old became the first Leigh player to represent England since October 1984, when both Des Drummond and Steve Donlan lined up against Wales.

Mulhern was already aware of that stat, courtesy of the club’s historian Mike Latham, and told Love Rugby League: “It’s pretty cool, but hopefully with the direction Leigh are going now, there can be even more lads playing for England.

“I think that’s got to be the goal if we want to be challenging for honours consistently… we need those international standard players.

“Tom Amone was very unlucky not to be selected for Tonga, and we’ve obviously got Lokie (Lachlan Lam) and Edwin (Ipape) playing for Papua New Guinea which is a very good standard.

“They are both unbelievable players who have been integral to our year, so hopefully we can keep building and get a few more.”

A whole lotta love at Leigh for Mulhern and pals

Mulhern enjoyed a stunning debut year at the Leigh Sports Village, making 31 appearances as Adrian Lam’s men reached the Super League play-offs for the first time in their history, and lifted the Challenge Cup at Wembley having beaten the towering forward’s former club Hull KR.

With heights never seen before in the Super League era, the Leopards have seen their attendances soar, with most supporters converts of the rebrand having dumped the ‘Centurions’ tagline this time last year ahead of their return to the top flight.

The ex-Warrington Wolves star praised everyone involved at Leigh, and looked ahead to the future with the club, continuing: “To be fair, I just think the fans love everyone.

“No disrespect to previous teams in the past few years, but they’ve never had a team this connected playing this well. You can go from one to 17, and the fans will be singing their praises.

“It is very nice to have a group of fans that support you. I can’t speak highly enough of the fans at Leigh and everyone involved, it’s a brilliant club and I feel very privileged to be a part of it.”

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