Martin Offiah Rugby League Interview Best Players

Martin Offiah’s Legendary XVII

One of the game’s greatest ever wingers in terms of tries, Martin Offiah was a speedster feared by opposing numbers and coaches the world over.

At home in England he dominated, winning numerous Challenge Cup and league championships with the all-conquering Wigan Warriors, while also enjoying success in Australia with Eastern Suburbs and St George.

Offiah sits in the Rugby League Hall of Fame and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to sport.

Here he takes us through the best 17 rugby league players he took the field with.

“It is funny, I have done this a few times over the years for different publications and my team has changed over time as I have viewed the contributions of players differently as time goes by,” Offiah said.

“I am indebted to all the players I played with, especially the centres – Darren Wright, Gary Connolly, Gene Miles, Mark Coyne, Stuart Littler, Tony Martin and whoever I played outside for Easts – I would’ve loved to have put you all in.

“Darren Wright deserves a special mention because he was my first centre partner, and outside him I topped the competition try chart every year I was at Widnes. My first 100 tries in 70 games broke Tom van Vollenhoven’s record. Something I doubt will ever be repeated.

“Rugby league is a team game and without that team, for me there would be no Hall of Fame, M.B.E’s or statues outside Wembley. So to each and every player I ever played with I owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you.”

Fullback: Jonathan Davies

Clubs: Canterbury, North Queensland, Widnes, Warrington
Rep honours: 13 Tests for Great Britain, 3 Tests for Wales

“He took a lot of stick when he came over to rugby league, people saying he wasn’t big enough or that he wouldn’t be able to handle the rough stuff. But he had tremendous ability, could play in the centres and on the wing, had all the ball skills of a playmaker.”

Wing: Jason Robinson

Clubs: Wigan
Rep honours: 12 Tests for Great Britain, 4 Tests for England

“Probably England’s greatest ever cross-code player, up there probably with the top three ever alongside Sonny Bill Williams. Fantastic player in a great Wigan side. He was very elusive and his highlight reel matches up alongside any of today’s players. He had enormous skill and was one of the first of the modern wingers who got to dummy-half and did a lot of work.”

Centre: Inga Tuigamala

Clubs: Wigan
Rep honours: 2 Tests for Western Samoa

“He was a precursor to Jonah Lomu, wasn’t he? Inga was the first big winger to come out of rugby union and play league. Played a lot in the centres while at Wigan. He had great hands, skill and footwork for such a big man and was an elusive runner.”

Centre: Gene Miles

Clubs: Brisbane, Wigan
Rep honours: 14 Tests for Australia, 23 Origins for Queensland

“I only played half a season with Gene Miles, but it was probably the most productive time of my career. I think I scored about 35 tries in half a season which was ridiculous. I scored about 20 tries in three weeks with Gene, 10 tries against Leeds and five in a semi-final, two in a Challenge Cup final that I remember, it was a very good half a season. Gene Miles was a legend and probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves compared to Allan Langer, Wally Lewis and Darren Lockyer. I was very fortunate to play with him.”

Wing: Martin Offiah

Clubs: Widnes, Wigan, London, Salford, Eastern Suburbs, St George
Rep honours: 33 Tests for Great Britain, 3 Tests for England

No explanation needed!

Five-eighth: Tony Myler

Clubs: Widnes, Balmain
Rep honours: 14 Tests for Great Britain

“He only had a brief spell with Balmain, but he was one of the most gifted players this country has ever produced. In the year or two I played with Tony he was injured quite a bit but was such a gifted ball player. He probably didn’t achieve what he could have because of his knee injuries, but anyone who played with him knows he was so gifted. Definitely warrants a place in my team.”

Halfback: Shaun Edwards

Clubs: Wigan, London, Bradford, Balmain
Rep honours: 36 Tests for Great Britain, 1 Test for England

“Shaun Edwards was literally like having a coach on the pitch. He had a fantastic brain, was prodigious talent, a hard worker, very fit, determined and someone that you would always want on your team. One of the most decorated rugby league players of all time. He was, I think, the only player to play in all of Wigan’s eight Challenge Cup finals. He was someone who put me in for a lot of tries for Great Britain and Wigan.”

Prop: Kurt Sorensen

Clubs: Widnes, Cronulla, Eastern Suburbs
Rep honours: 28 Tests for New Zealand

“A really tough player and another who doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Very skillful guy, great leader and captain and a fantastic competitor. A complete forward; had the grunt and the go forward and also that little bit skill. Many times tries for Widnes in the 1980s and 1990s stemmed from offloads from Kurt Sorensen, and this was before people gave the skill of offloading much credit.”

Hooker: Phil McKenzie

Clubs: Illawarra, Widnes, Workington Town
Rep honours: Nil

“At one stage Phil was going to play for Great Britain, he was good enough and qualified through the residency rule, I don’t know why he didn’t but he deserved it. We played in a game for Widnes at Old Trafford when we beat the Canberra Raiders after being 12-0 down, and that was one of Phil McKenzie’s greatest games. He was amazing out of dummy-half, his service was good and he could tackle. The complete hooker.”

Prop: Andy Platt

Clubs: St Helens, Wigan, Auckland Warriors, Salford
Rep honours: 25 Tests for Great Britain, 4 Tests for England

“Tremendous front-rower. Solid go forward but had the fitness of a back-rower, there were a few who could have filled this spot, but Andy Platt for sure deserves it.”

Second Row: Emosi Koloto

Clubs: Widnes, Halifax
Rep honours: 5 Tests for New Zealand

“He was a fantastic ball player. He was tough, he was big and very fit. Awesome player, Emosi. He played close to the edge now and again, which got him in trouble, but an awesome forward.”

Second Row: Denis Betts

Clubs: Wigan, Auckland Warriors
Rep honours: 32 Tests for Great Britain, 4 England

“Because he was in teams who had a lot of superstars he probably didn’t get the credit he deserved. One of the first, alongside Phil Clarke, in terms of professional levels of fitness and preparation. He could really play 80 minutes in the modern game. Was a poacher, a great runner on the left out wide and I fed off him a lot. He could have played in the centres too in those times, with the pace to play there – I got a fair few tries outside Denis.”

Lock: Andy Farrell

Clubs: Wigan
Rep honours: 33 Tests for Great Britain, 9 for England

“He could do everything. My team has probably evolved over the years and he has come into it because he could just do so much. By default Ellery [Hanley] used to get a lot picks and starts at that position in dream teams from my era, but as it goes on and I think about what Andy did, it’s not to be sniffed at. The guy was so talented. Could kick goals, was big, a leader as well and led Wigan through some tough times after he came in at the end of the glory days.”

Interchange: Mark Coyne

Clubs: St George, St George Illawarra
Rep honours: 6 Tests for Australia, 19 Origins for Queensland

“I played with him at St George, he was able to cover a few positions in the backline. An awesome player for Queensland as well. I had some awesome times playing outside him for the Dragons.”

Interchange: Ellery Hanley

Clubs: Bradford Northern, Wigan, Leeds, Balmain, Western Suburbs, Sydney Tigers
Rep honours: 36 Tests for Great Britain

“Easily interchangeable with Farrell in the forwards with his skills. Ellery is one of the all-time greats.”

Interchange: Dale Shearer

Clubs: Manly, Brisbane, Gold Coast, South Queensland, Sydney City, North Queensland
Rep honours: 21 Tests for Australia, 21 Origins for Queensland

“He was fast, skillful and had a great footballing brain which he doesn’t get credit for. He could play any position in the backs.”

Interchange: Paul Osbourne

Clubs: St George, Canberra
Rep honours: Nil

“Gave you massive go forward and had great hands, which he showed in setting me up for the first of my hat-trick of tries at the Sydney Football Stadium back in 1991.”



There are 14 comments

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  1. Allan Marsden

    Nearly impossible to argue with any of those choices, Andy Gregory? dOES THE CHOICE NOT BECOME Greg and Myler or Edwards? Emosi I struggle with but he choice is personal Great re Gene Miles; a FREAK IN THE NICEST POSSIBLE WAY


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