Wingers are an essential part to every team. They are where most teams’ tries come from and are often the ones to grab the headlines when they cross for a magnificent score.
With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at 6 of the best wingers to have ever played in English rugby league.
‘The Volcano’ as fans used to call him, has a fantastic scoring record, with an incredible 136 tries in 136 games in a trophy-winning six years with the Bradford Bulls.
Coming over from New Zealand in 2002, Vainikolo appeared in his first Grand Final the following year, with his Bulls side defeating Wigan 25-12 at Old Trafford.
2005 was a spell-binding season for the Bulls, who lost out to bitter rivals Leeds at Old Trafford the season before. Nevertheless, Bradford were triumphant 12 months on, securing a 15-6 win over the Rhinos, with Vainikolo scoring in the final. The Volcano’s last game was in a 38-14 victory over Leeds in June 2007.
His most impressive season individually was in 2004, when he smashed the League’s record of tries, scoring 36 in just 26 appearances. This record has since been beaten by Denny Solomona, who scored 40 tries for Castleford in 2016. Nevertheless, Lesley still holds the record for the most tries in a single game, scoring six against Hull FC in September 2005.
What a brilliant winger this man was. Formerly a Wigan Warriors player, Jason Robinson had one hell of a career. He had already picked up 12 senior titles with the Warriors before Super League formed in 1996 and although they couldn’t halt St Helens winning the inaugural title, Robinson still stuck his name in the history books by being named in the first Super League Dream Team ahead of one of Saints’ wingers.
The first Grand Final Robinson and his fellow Warriors made since the formation of Super League was in its third year, in 1998. Robinson was instrumental, scoring their only try as they were beaten 10-4 by the Leeds Rhinos.
In 1998, 1999 and 2000, he was named in the Super League Team of the Year, before switching codes to Rugby Union after winning everything there was to be won with Wigan. Robinson had pace to burn and was arguably the most elusive finisher to have ever graced the English game.
Formerly of both the Wigan Warriors and the Catalans Dragons for a short period, Pat Richards is a household name when it comes to wingers in Super League. In his times at the DW, he also manage to establish himself as an outstanding goal-kicker; just another string to add to his bow!
Fresh from a title winning season with the Wests Tigers in the NRL, 2005 was to be a tremendous season for him and his fellow Wiganers. Richards was named in Wigan’s team of the year in 2008 after scoring 19 tries in the campaign.
Then, Richards scored a record 38 points during a game which saw Wigan defeat Catalans 58-0. Later that year, he equalled a scoring tally set by former Warrior, Andy Farrell. A memorable year was capped off with a Grand Final victory, as well as being named Man of Steel for that year!
It was announced in 2013 that Pat would return to Australia and head back to Wests Tigers but he bowed out extremely well by scoring a try and kicking five goals as Wigan would defeat Warrington in the Grand Final. Richards then returned to Super League in 2016, this time for a fresh start with the Catalans Dragons.
Check out our Leeds, St Helens and Warrington legends on page 2!