My Ultimate Team: Barrie McDermott names his greatest 13 including Leeds, Wigan, Great Britain stars

Drew Darbyshire
Barrie McDermott My Ultimate Team

Former Great Britain and Ireland international turned Sky Sports pundit Barrie McDermott is our next guest on My Ultimate Team, in which we ask the stars of the game to pick their greatest side built of players they had the pleasure of playing alongside.

McDermott enjoyed a distinguished playing career at the highest level, making more than 350 appearances for club and country. He started his career at hometown club Oldham before going on to play for Wigan and Leeds, spending a decade at the Rhinos, before finishing his career with a sole season at Widnes in 2006.

On the international stage, McDermott won 15 caps for Great Britain and 13 for Ireland.

Speaking exclusively with Love Rugby League, here is McDermott’s all-star 13 of his favourite players he played with throughout his career..

1. Iestyn Harris

Iestyn Harris Leeds Rhinos Alamy

My full-back would always be Iestyn Harris. In the late 90s when he came to the Rhinos, in 1998 he won the Man of Steel. He was a game changer and a maverick player who was a six that could play full-back, and during a game would go to six and just flip the game on its head. Iestyn, who is from my hometown, I knew him when he was a young kid and he worked so hard on his craft but his natural skill and his ability to use time when he looked like he was running at one pace and everybody else was just that one step behind him was what made him exceptional. I’ll put him at full-back just to fit him into the team.

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2. Jason Robinson

Jason Robinson Wigan Warriors Alamy

Jason Robinson started in league and then went to union. He was a player who could change direction in the blink of an eye and make it so fast you just couldn’t get hold of him, and we all know what he was able to deliver on a big stage.

3. Gary Connolly

Gary Connolly Wigan Warriors Alamy

I’ve gone for two different types of centre but one that I’ve put at three could play full-back. He played at St Helens but was known as a Wigan legend in Gary Connolly.

A brilliant player, devastating with the ball and super smart at where to be at the right time. Defensively, he would make players do what he wanted and had an ability to diffuse that situation. Gaz never wasted energy, he worked hard on the field and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time but he never wasted energy and that was his great strength, he was always there and always anticipating where he needed to be, whether it was in attack and defence and that’s why he is respected on both sides of the world.

4. Keith Senior

Keith Senior Leeds Rhinos Alamy

The other centre would be the beast, Keith Senior. Whilst he was at Sheffield, he was known as a runner but when he came to Leeds, over the period of his time at the Rhinos he became the best centre in the world and the creativity later in his career got undermined a little bit because he was 6ft 4in and 17 stone, and powerful and fast. His creativity and ability to give his team-mates some pearlers of offloads and passes, people wouldn’t always recognise that but I’d always have Keith Senior in my team.

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5. Martin Offiah

Martin Offiah Wigan Warriors Alamy

The best finisher I ever saw or played with or against was Martin Offiah. He would often turn up in a big game, score a breakaway try but he was also someone that when he scored one, he had a hunger and desire to get on the scoresheet more and more because he wasn’t satisfied with just one. Sometimes you play with players who are greedy and just want the ball to score, but Offiah wanted try after try. So many times in his career did he top the try charts because one wasn’t enough for him.

6. Kevin Sinfield

Kevin Sinfield Leeds Rhinos Alamy

I’ve gone for a 13 that can play six and seven that can play nine or seven. I’ve gone for Kev Sinfield at six, Kev was a really diligent pro and everybody would tell you that who played with him. He was the first at training and the last to leave.

I was blessed to have some amazing travel buddies, Iestyn (Harris) was the first one and Kevin was the one I spent the most amount of time with during my career. We travelled over to Leeds together from Oldham every day, if he was there early then so was I, and if he stayed there late then so did I. His work ethic improved my game, but his understanding of the game came from hours and hours of work. He came into the side as a back-rower, he developed into a loose forward and then later on in his career he played a little bit at nine, played a lot of six and even played a bit at seven.

Kev was a great thinker of the game, he could be that chess player within a rugby league match, he was always two or three steps ahead.

7. Rob Burrow

Rob Burrow Leeds Rhinos Alamy

If you have a thinker at six, then you need a runner at seven. Rob Burrow, for everything that he’s done post-career in terms of his bravery and his courage, we all saw that when he wore the number seven on a rugby field.

He was a little bit smaller than everyone else but he turned that weakness into his greatest strength. He had the big fellas chasing him, unable to get hold of them and could make them look foolish. Rob was a terrific player and we must never forget, for everything that Rob has achieved during this current phase of his life, first and foremost he was a tremendous rugby league player. He could break a game open from that step, footwork and acceleration that he had. He could do anything.

8. Terry O’Connor

Terry O'Connor Great Britain Alamy

My two front-rowers I played with on the BARLA tour but I played with them at various times throughout my career. My first is Terry O’Connor, he’s a great friend and somebody I have known virtually all my life. We have a very close relationship but on a rugby league field I knew I could count on him. He had a really strong work ethic and he was just really reliable.

9. Terry Newton (Leeds)

Terry Newton Great Britain Alamy

I played with some really good hookers and when I compare people like Matt Diskin, Lee Jackson, Martin Dermott, Richard Russell – some really crafty hookers – but I played with one that had everything, and that was Terry Newton.

Tz had a craft and deception around the play-the-ball that was good for me as a first up carry, whether I was near my line or near their line. Tez’s defence was strong and hard at times but his attack was really smart. If I called for the ball, I almost always got it from him and you need that relationship with your nine. He was always smart enough to know if I turned around and tried to offload, it didn’t really matter what it looked like, he’d never drop any of my offloads and I always grateful for players like him.

10. Darren Fleary (Leeds)

Darren Fleary Leeds Rhinos Alamy

I enjoyed playing with Daz in my Leeds career. Daz was somebody who was selfless within the team, he would always try to find a quick play-the-ball and would always mop up defensively because he was fit, competitive and strong. He had a really good tackle technique and he could whack them as well.

O’Connor and Fleary would’ve been a good pairing in the front-row, they would be the two front-rowers I mosted enjoyed playing with because their style suited my style.

11. Adrian Morley (Leeds)

Adrian Morley Great Britain Alamy

You’ll have to forgive me because I’m fitting my favourite team-mates into a pack. They are the my favourites but they’re also the best..

Moz was a back-rower when I played with him at Leeds but obviously he developed into a world-class front-rower. Adrian Morley was, when I met him, ruthless in as far as he could whack and he had a really good, strong tackle in him but the work rate that he had, the amount of tackles he could make, the reliability and efficiency of those tackles and the control he had was second to none.

Moz was a great team-mate. His skill and ability was why he is respected in this country, he was respected at the Roosters and he was respected before he even got to the Roosters but once he left Australia it’s no coincidence to me that he was welcomed back because he’s the nicest fella off the field, but once he crossed that line he was a really tough, ruthless player.

12. Paul Sculthorpe (Great Britain)

Paul Sculthorpe Great Britain Alamy

Paul Sculthorpe could play loose forward, back-row or stand-off. Scully ended up retiring early, he was only just into his 30s, but his skill, his instinct.. He’s probably similar to Kevin Sinfield in that he could control a game, he could change his game up, he could be a runner, he could be a distributor, his kicking game was good, off the tee he was good, out of the hand he was good – but Scully’s competitive spirit, his pride in his job was second to none.

You’d have him in your team any day because he’d never let you down. He never got overawed by a big occasion, he was one of those players that the bigger the game was, the better he would play.

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13. Andy Farrell (Wigan)

Andy Farrell Great Britain Alamy

13, for me, is still the best player of the Super League era: Andy Farrell. He was a kid who I met at 17 when I first joined Wigan, I was bowled over by the presence of him, the way he was in the first team at 17 – he was dominating the games.

He was also dominating the changing room, in a changing room that was full of galácticos, it was full of big people and big characters, Faz would still – a lot of the time – have the final say when I was there.

I always had a lot of respect for him before I played against him, I spent a lot of time with him at Wigan and Great Britain but I played against him a lot too. The thing with Faz, he could outwork you because he was fit, he could outthink you because he was smart, he could outfight you because he was tough – and he absolutely loved winning. If you was at the side of him and your standards weren’t matching his, he’d let you know. I think he’s still the best player to have played in the Super League era.

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