Wigan Warriors RLFC’s 10 Greatest Players
Picking the 10 greatest players in the history of a club like Wigan is an almost impossible task. The club was a founding member of the Northern Rugby Football Union way back in 1872 so there is over 140 years of history to look back on when selecting the best of the best. In that time the club has won 21 League Championships, 19 Challenge Cups and four World Club Challenge trophies.
Wigan is comfortably the most successful club in the history of English rugby league and they were especially dominant from the middle of the 80s to the mid-90s. As a result of this period of dominance that saw them win seven League Championships in succession starting in 1990, you can expect to find a lot of stars from that period on this list.
Here is a rundown ten of the ten best that lined up for the Wigan Warriors:
10. Kris Radlinski
A Wigan born player, Kris Radlinski represented the club from 1993-2006 and was the primary fullback option for that entire run. Radlinski turned out 322 times for the Cherry and Whites, scoring 183 tries during his career.
Radlinski had many outstanding days in a Wigan jersey, but one of his best came at the start of his career. In 1995 he became the youngest ever winner of the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man-of-the-match in Wigan’s Premiership Final win where he was the first ever play to score a hat-trick at that event.
9. Andy Farrell
Andy Farrell was that rarest of beasts as he was a goal kicking loose forward. His unique blend of skills made him a mainstay for Wigan and Great Britain, while his obvious leadership capabilities saw him quickly captaining both his club and country.
Wigan was the only rugby league club that Farrell played for during his dual-code career and he was with the Warriors from 1991-2004. During that time he made 370 appearances, amassing an incredible 3,135 points. Farrell won six league titles and four Challenge Cups with the Cherry and Whites, and represented England at four World Cups.
8. Dean Bell
Dean Bell bounced around before finding his way to Wigan having played in New Zealand, England, and Australia before finding the club that would change his career. Bell won seven consecutive Challenge Cup finals with the Warriors, also picking up a Lance Todd Trophy and a Man of Steel Award. He played for Wigan from 1986-94 and appeared in 253 games scoring 96 tries. Bell went into coaching at the end of his playing career and was a big part of the youth setup at Wigan during the early 2000s.
7. Eric Ashton
Eric Ashton played his entire career for Wigan back in the 1950s and 60s when players rarely changed clubs. Ashton made 497 appearances and scored 231 tries between 1955-1969, also chipping in with 448 goals for a Wigan career total of 1,589 points. Ashton formed a devastating partnership with fellow club legend Billy Boston, as they led Wigan to the league championship in 1959-60 and to three Challenge Cup successes.
6. Jason Robinson
Jason Robinson (or ‘Billy Whizz,’ as he was also known) is one of the greatest cross code rugby players of all time. The Leeds-born sensation made his name at Wigan where he scored an incredible 685 points in 302 appearances for the club.
Robinson was a devastating winger with some of the fastest acceleration ever seen on a rugby pitch. His ability to side-step in tight situations is still unmatched to this day in the English game and he was one of those players that fans paid their money to see perform.
5. Andy Gregory
A two-time Lance Todd Trophy winner while at Wigan, diminutive halfback Andy Gregory was always a thorn in the side of the opposition. He may have been just 5-foot-5, but Gregory could stand up to the pounding of the game better than players twice his size. Gregory was at his pomp during his first season with Wigan in 1987 when he helped lead the Cherry and Whites to a run of 29 straight wins while picking up the player of the year award in the process.
4. Martin Offiah
Martin ‘Chariots’ Offiah may have the best (and most fitting) nickname in all of sports. At his peak he was a try scoring machine, racking up an almost incomprehensible 501 tries during his rugby league career. Offiah is yet another who saw his best days with the club that would become the Warriors, as his ability to finish flowing moves and outpace opponents on the edge was second to none. The result of his breathtaking speed and power was a strike rate of more than one try per game for Wigan, as he crossed the line 186 times in 159 outings.
3. Shaun Edwards
Shaun Edwards was Mr. Wigan as he played for the team for almost their entire modern run of success. Edwards starred for his hometown club from 1983-1997, making 467 appearances and scoring 226 tries, playing primarily as a scrum-half, but also seeing time at stand-off and fullback.
In his time at Wigan, Edwards won eight league championships and nine Challenge Cups. These are both records to this day and ones that look unlikely to be broken, as maintaining that level of dominance in the current Super League system does not seem possible.
2. Billy Boston
A step into the way-back machine brings us to one of Wigan’s favorite sons in winger Billy Boston. Boston was actually born away from the league heartland in Cardiff – to a father from Sierra Leone, at that – and cried upon signing for Wigan as it would take him away from his Welsh home and his dream of playing for Wales.
Boston later called this the “best mistake [he] ever made,” as he tore it up for Wigan from 1953-1968. In that time Boston scored 478 tries in 487 games for the club and became known for his ability to produce long-range match-winners if he was given any space at all. A statue of Boston was unveiled in the town in 2016.
1. Ellery Hanley
A supreme footballer, Ellery Hanley was at home anywhere on the pitch. ‘The Black Pearl’ started for Wigan right at the beginning of their period of 80s dominance, playing 202 games and scoring 189 tries for the club. His 19-year career took him all over the world, but it was at Wigan where he achieved his greatest success.
In Hanley’s second season at Wigan, he showed just how dominant he could be when healthy and in a fixed position. Playing primarily at centre, Hanley scored an incredible 64 tries during the campaign – a record for a non-winger. He also starred at centre as Wigan beat New Zealand 14-8 during their tour of Great Britain, something that seems inconceivable today.