Super League have tonight announced the Dream Team lineup for 2023, with neighbours Leigh Leopards and Wigan Warriors accounting for eight of the 13 players selected.
The Leopards have enjoyed a stellar first year back in the top flight following promotion from the Championship last term. As well as lifting the Challenge Cup at Wembley back in August, they’ve taken the elite by storm and with a 5th place finish are about to embark on a first-ever Super League play-off campaign.
Star man Lachlan Lam is named in the Dream Team having grabbed nine tries and 21 assists this term. Alongside him, Leopards captain John Asiata, hooker Edwin Ipape and prop Edwin Ipape are all debutants to the end-of-year ‘best of’ selection. Six first inclusions have been made in total, with the full team available to view below.
The other Leopard included is winger Josh Charnley, who has reinvigorated his career with Adrian Lam’s men, scoring 26 Super League tries. He was previously included in 2012 and 2013, when playing for Wigan.
Leigh Leopards and Wigan Warriors dominate Super League Dream Team 2023
Another Dream Team debutant is Warriors centre Jake Wardle, enjoying a memorable first season at the DW Stadium with 16 tries to his name after making the move from Huddersfield Giants in the off-season.
Teammates Bevan French and Liam Farrell join him in the 13 having lifted the League Leaders’ Shield on Friday night, with captain Farrell named in a Dream Team for a sixth time in his illustrious career. He has now also equalled former teammate Sam Tomkins’ record of five consecutive selections in this lineup.
French meanwhile is chosen for a third time, and in a third different position. First as a full-back in 2020 and then as a winger in 2022, his hat-trick of selections is completed this time around in stand-off.
The five others chosen this year all come from different clubs, with Tom Johnstone an obvious choice on the opposite flank to Charnley having ended on 27 tries, joint top scorer alongside Abbas Miski from Wigan.
Lebanon international Miski will thin himself unlucky to have missed out, though a large percentage of his tries in recent weeks have come against ‘weaker’ teams including a very youthful Hull KR ahead of their Challenge Cup final appearance.
Elsewhere, Warrington Wolves prop Paul Vaughan is included as the sixth and final debutant at the end of a turbulent first year in Super League. The 32-year-old prop has played a big part in getting the Wire into the play-offs, but will play no part in them having been hit with a four-game ban last week.
St Helens’ Jack Welsby is named for a third time, this year at stand-off, while Hull KR captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall is the oldest player chosen at 34. He will retire at the end of 2023, and after Wembley heartbreak, could end up bowing out with an Old Trafford appearance.
In probably the most ‘out there’ pick from Ellery Hanley MBE and his panel, Salford Red Devils ace Kallum Watkins is chosen in the back row. The 32-year-old – included twice before during his Leeds Rhinos days – has made 24 appearances for Salford this year, and undoubtedly has been one of their standout men, but arguments will come for other players not being picked over him.
One of those players will be Matt Whitley, with the Catalans ace – who is expected to sign for St Helens ahead of 2024 – really pivotal for Steve McNamara’s men on their journey to 2nd place with 23 starts and seven tries.
Betfred Super League Dream Team 2023 (including heritage number)
- Jack Welsby – St Helens (195)
- Josh Charnley – Leigh Leopards (122)
- Jake Wardle – Wigan Warriors (211)
- Shaun Kenny-Dowall – Hull KR (201)
- Tom Johnstone – Catalans Dragons (171)
- Bevan French – Wigan Warriors (186)
- Lachlan Lam – Leigh Leopards (209)
- Paul Vaughan – Warrington Wolves (210)
- Edwin Ipape – Leigh Leopards (208)
- Tom Amone – Leigh Leopards (206)
- Kallum Watkins – Salford Red Devils (140)
- Liam Farrell – Wigan Warriors (150)
- John Asiata – Leigh Leopards (207)