Top ten Rugby League Imports

Top ten Rugby League Imports

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#10 Brett Hodgson

Hodgson came to England after a 12 year career in Australia with Western Suburbs, Parramatta Eels and Wests Tigers.

He then joined Huddersfield Giants in 2009, where he scored 16 tries and 182 conversions in 51 games for the club. In his first season, he won the Man of Steel award after guiding the club to the Challenge Cup Final, although they did lose.

After spending two seasons at the Giants, he then moved to the other side of the Pennines to Warrington Wolves.

It was at the Wolves where he won major honours, as he won two Challenge Cups and a League Leaders Shield. He also scored 13 tries and 314 conversions during his time at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

He then retired in 2013 and stayed in this country for a few years coaching the academy at Widnes Vikings, but is now the Head Coach of Western Suburbs Magpies.

#9 Dean Bell

Bell started at Manukau in New Zealand before coming to this country in 1982 with Carlisle. He played 23 games before moving to Leeds.

It was at Leeds where he won his first major trophy as he helped them to an 18-10 victory over Wigan in the John Player Special Trophy. He then went back to Australia as he spent two seasons at Easts in Sydney.

He then came back to the UK as he signed for Wigan in 1986, and it was here where he spent the most successful part of his career. He scored 96 tries in 253 games.

He won seven Challenge Cups, six League titles, four Lancashire County Cups and four League Cups.

He also won individual honours as he won the Man of Steel and the Lance Todd Trophy in 1992.

He then went back to New Zealand in 1995 as the first captain for the newly formed Auckland Warriors, before a short spell at Leeds Rhinos before retiring.

#8 Henry Paul

After impressing as a youth player in New Zealand, Paul came to the country in 1993 with Wakefield Trinity.

But it was at Wigan where he earned the most success with three League titles, two League Cups and two Challenge Cups.

He then reunited with his brother Robbie at Bradford Bulls where he helped them to two Super League Grand Finals, winning one.

He also helped them to the Challenge Cup with victory over Leeds Rhinos in 2000, when he also won the Lance Todd Trophy.

Paul then spent the majority of his career in Rugby Union before retiring in 2011 at the age of 37.

#7 Pat Richards

Like mant before him, Pat Richards came to the Super League in 2006 with a decent NRL career under his belt.

He played 78 games for Parramatta Eels and Wests Tigers, winning one NRL Premiership with the Tigers in 2005.

He then played some of his best rugby at Warriors, scoring 167 tries and 898 conversions in 244 appearances.

He helped them to two Super League titles and the Challenge Cup. He also won the Man of Steel and Albert Goldthorpe Medal in 2010.

He then left to go back to the Tigers, before then returning to Super League with Catalans Dragons, where he retired in 2016.

#6 Robbie Paul

Like his brother, Robbie Paul started out at Waitakere City in New Zealand before coming to this country in 1994 to join Bradford Bulls.

He scored an incredible 224 tries in 241 appearances. He also helped the Bulls to four Super League titles, including captaining the side that won the treble in 2003.

He also won the Lance Todd Trophy in 1996 after scoring a hat trick against St Helens, but they lost that final, making him one of only a few players to win the award whilst on the losing side.

The New Zealander did get his Challenge Cup win eventually in 2000 before another title in 2003.

Paul also helped the Bulls to two World Club Challenge titles in 2002 and 2004.

He left the Bulls in 2005 and had spells at Huddersfield Giants, Salford City Reds and Leigh Centurions before retiring in 2011.

#5 Lesley Vainikolo

Vainikolo started his career in the Australian capital at Canberra Raiders, where he registered 140 points in 68 games, and was named Rookie of the Year in 1998.

He then signed for Bradford Bulls, where he immediately won a trophy as his debut came in the 2002 World Club Challenge victory over Newcastle Knights.

He would help the Bulls to the treble in 2003, and another Super League title in 2005.

The winger finished his rugby league career in 2007 before forming a career in rugby union before retiring in France at La Rochelle.

#4 Ben Barba

Barba initially came to the Super League under controversial circumstances.

Just after winning the 2016 NRL Championship with Cronulla Sharks, Barba had tested positive for cocaine and was subsequently banned for 12 matches.

After a brief spell in French Rugby Union, it was announced he would sign for St Helens.

At the Saints he scored a staggering 34 tries in 34 games, as he helped the club win the League Leaders Shield, their first trophy for four years.

He became the second person to win both the Dally M Player of the Year and Super League Man of Steel in the same year.

Barba then signed for North Queensland Cowboys but was subsequently sacked after CCTV footage had emerged of him assaulting his partner outside a casino.

He was subsequently banned from all rugby league, and is now finding another career.


#3 Gavin Miller

The oldest player in our list, Miller was the first person to win the Dally M and Man of Steel awards.

After initially struggling to make a name for himself in Australia, Miller came to Hull KR in 1984, and transformed into the well respected player that he is today.

In two years at Rovers, he helped them to victory in the League Cup and Yorkshire County Cup and also the Challenge Cup Final, although they did lose that day.

He then returned to Australia in 1986 where he made his name with Cronulla Sharks.

#2 Billy Boston
Boston is another that started out in rugby union, but came to rugby league with Wigan in 1953.
The rest is history as he scored 478 tries in 488 appearances for the club and helped them to one league title, three Challenge Cups, two Lancashire Leagues and one Lancashire Cup.
He has since had a stand named after him at both Central Park and the DW Stadium

#1 Tom Van Vollenhoven
The South African international came to St Helens in 1957 from Rugby Union in his home country.
It proved to be a match made in heaven as he scored an incredible 392 tries in 409 appearances.
During that time, he helped the club to two league titles, two Challenge Cups, five Lancashire Leagues and six Lancashire Cups.
He sadly died in 2017 in South Africa at the age of 82.

About Post Author

Steven Hughes

I am a freelance journalist based in Liverpool, specialising in football, darts and rugby league
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