Seven of the best rugby league players that New Zealand have produced

When people think of New Zealand and rugby, they will usually think of Rugby Union and how they are one of the best teams on the planet. However, although not as popular as Rugby Union, New Zealand also have a very good Rugby League team and have produced some quality players over the years. Below we are going to take a look at some of the best Rugby League players that this great sporting nation has produced down the years.

Betting on Rugby League 

New Zealanders love betting on Rugby League and if you were to place a bet on any of the players mentioned here to score a try you would have a very good chance of winning your bet. Sports betting in New Zealand is also attracting interest from a newer generation of sport gamblers who are keen on getting in on the action but who also require guidance from the experts in order to figure out their first moves. Because of this, New Zealand betting specialist sites such as are in the ascendant, as newbies turn to the professionals to help them navigate the waters until they get a feel for which bookies work best for them.  


Simon Mannering

Phenomenally consistent and hardworking, the second-row warhorse became only the second player ever to make more than 200 appearances the New Zealand Warriors and he has captained the club on more than 100 occasions. Australian Rugby League pundits do not like complimenting New Zealanders, but Mannering earned a lot of respect from Australians. As well as playing in the second row, he could also play at centre if need be. He starred for the Kiwis at the 2008 World Cup, which New Zealand won and also played his part in Four Nations triumphs against Australia in 2010 and 2014. In his 13-year spell with the Warriors, he scored 252 points and he was capped 45 times by his country. 

Sonny Bill Williams 

Fast, rangy, skillful, and powerful, Williams quickly earned himself superstar status and was the player that the Canterbury Bulldogs were going to build their team around. However, in 2008, just half a season into his new 5-year deal, he walked out on the club to play Rugby Union for Toulon. He returned to Rugby League in 2013 when he signed up with the Sydney Roosters. He arrived at the club under a lot of scrutiny, but he made a huge impact on the club and helped them to lift the title that season. In 2015, he was named in the Bulldog’s Team of the Decade. He was selected to play for New Zealand in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and was absolutely superb throughout – he was voted as the RLIF Player of the Year. 

Stacey Jones 

He is a mercurial halfback that played 46 matches for New Zealand, scoring 16 tries and 160 points along the way. When he first arrived on the Rugby League scene, he was just 19, and after a fantastic debut season with Auckland Warriors, he unseated Gary Freeman from the 1995 World Cup and went on to put in consistently great performances for country and club over the course of a decade. He played 322 league matches during his career and scored 849 points – at his peak, there were not many other halfbacks who could compete with him. Those that deserve an honourable mention include Allan Langer and Andrew Johns. In 2009, the little halfback was named in New Zealand’s Team of the Century. 

Mark Graham 

A skillful and bruising second-rower, Graham was named as New Zealand’s Player of the Century back in 2009. During the 80s, he was regarded by many pundits as being the best second rower in the world. He played 28 matches for his country, and was captain in 18 of those, which included the 18-0 win against Australia in 1985. When he was at Brisbane Norths in 1980, he won the BRL Championship before he went on to play 146 games for North Sydney. 

Benji Marshall

Marshall played for the Wests Tigers for 11 seasons and helped them to Premiership success in 2005. During his time at the club, he scored 76 tries and a total of 1,118 points, which are both records for the club. His Test career for New Zealand was equally as memorable as he was a major part of their World Cup win back in 2008. He went on to captain his country 16 times and was the captain when New Zealand upset Australia in the 2010 final of the Four Nations. He won the Golden Boot during this tournament, which made him just the third New Zealander to do so. In 2013, he tried to switch to Rugby Union, but it did not work out for him, so he made a return to Rugby League the following year and kicked on from there.  

Ruben Wiki

The Otahuhu powerhouse rose to fame in the Rugby League world as a centre during Canberra’s Premiership success in 1994, but he played in the pack when playing for international rugby for New Zealand. Wiki played 224 matches for the Raiders, scoring 60 tries, before he gravitated to the engine-room. He played the final four seasons of his career with the Warriors, becoming the first overseas player to earn 300 first-grade appearances. A year after he retired from the sport, he was given the position of prop in his country’s best team of the century.

Shaun Johnson

Johnson is undoubtedly one of the most talented players that Rugby League has ever seen and if he carries on doing what he has been doing, he has a good chance of being classified as the best player that has ever played the sport. There are not many players out there that can match him when it comes to his speed, footwork, kicking, and ball-playing ability. England fans will remember his brilliance in the 2013 World Cup semi-final, which has been touted as one of the best Test matches ever. Australia fans will also remember the two consecutive Man-of-the-Match awards that he got to help New Zealand lift the 2014 Four Nations title. He played for the New Zealand Warriors for seven seasons and scored a staggering 917 points. He currently plays for the Cronulla Sharks, where he has scored 222 points in 34 games. He has represented his country 30 times and has notched up 219 points.

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