Six Tackles: Players who were born in unknown rugby league territory

Drew Darbyshire

We take a look at current players who were born in countries where Rugby League is near unknown.

Masi Matongo (Zimbabwe)

The 21-year-old front-rower was born in Harare in Zimbabwe and is one of the hottest prospects in Super League at the moment. Matongo came through Hull FC’s academy and is a member of their first team now.

He made his Hull FC debut in 2015 and has made 16 first team appearances to date. He signed a three-year contract extension in March 2018.

Another player who was born in Zimbabwe is York City Knights star Judah Mazive. He came through Wakefield Trinity’s academy.

Mikolaj Oledzki (Poland)

The 18-year-old was born in Gdansk in Poland. Oledzki definitely has a big future ahead of him and has been a regular in the England Academy for a couple of years now.

He has already played 11 first team games for Leeds Rhinos after coming through their academy. Oledzki has also spent time in the lower leagues on loan to Bradford Bulls and Featherstone Rovers.

Will Sharp (Nigeria)

The 31-year-old was born in Zaria in Nigeria. He came through the academy at Harlequins before enjoying stints at Hull FC and Featherstone Rovers, before joining current club Halifax in 2016.

Sharp has a good try scoring record throughout his career, having scored 107 tries in a total of 254 professional appearances. He is a winger who can also play at full-back.

Gadwin Springer (French Guiana)

The 25-year-old was born in French Guiana, which is an overseas department and region of France, on the north Atlantic coast of South America in the Guyanas. It borders Brazil to the east and south and Suriname to the west.

Springer moved from French Guiana to Toulouse at an early age and played his junior rugby for Toulouse Olympique. He was signed by Catalans Dragons in 2014 and made four appearances for the club, before moving to Castleford Tigers in 2015. He is a first team regular at the Tigers and has earned five caps for France.

Olsi Krasniqi (Albania)

The 25-year-old was born in Tirana, Albania. He was brought up in London and his father was a professional wrestler in Albania.

Krasniqi came through the ranks at London Broncos. He made his professional debut at the age of 17. He had a spell in Super League with English side Salford Red Devils, has been on loan to Welsh side North Wales Crusaders and is now at Canadian outfit Toronto Wolfpack.

Kruise Leeming (Swaziland)

The 22-year-old was born in Lobamba in Swaziland. He is a product of Huddersfield Giants’ academy system and made his debut in 2013 against Warrington Wolves, scoring with his first touch of the ball.

He has recently been named in the England Knights Performance squad after being a standout player for the Giants since becoming a regular in 2015. He is one of the best hookers in Super League.

Notable mentions to Tom Johnstone (Germany), Lamont Bryan (Germany), Jon Magrin (Malta), Levy Nzoungou (Congo) and Jamal Fakir (Morocco) who were also born in relatively unknown rugby league areas.