LINE-UP | A rugby union XIII that would dominate rugby league

With just under a year to the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, RUCK feature writer Oliver Roby has trawled the globe to bring together an all-star team of Union players who’d dominate in rugby league.

In 2021 more teams than ever will compete to be crowned Rugby League World Cup Champions with four pools of four nations competing in 17 stadia across England.

All quarter finalists from the preceding World Cup (RLWC2017) automatically qualify to compete. The remaining eight nations were decided by a qualification process based on global regions determined by International Rugby League.

New rivalries will form, old ones will play out with vigour. Pre-game Hakas, Sipi Taus and hymns will set the stage for clashes of epic proportions. 

However, here’s a team of rugby union players who we think would dominate:

1. Full Back – Romain Ntamack

A Rugby League full back needs to be adept in both attack and defence, so we’ve opted for France fly half Romain Ntamack.

His ability to play in the centres in union should see him stand up when required in defence, while his deft handling skills will come to the fore going forward, acting as the extra playmaker like so many of the great rugby league full backs in recent years.


2. Wing – Joe Cokanasiga

Much like their union counterparts, speed and finishing chances are very much part of the game as a winger. Perhaps the only quirk is that league wingers tend to take more carries out of their own half in league.

That’s why Bath powerhouse Joe Cokanasiga would be ideally suited to playing on the wing in rugby league.


3. Centre – Manu Tuilagi

Athletic, strong and extremely capable, Tuilagi would be able to make the union-league switch fairly comfortably as a centre. His physicality in defence would be useful, while his go-forward could well be in the mould of Keith Senior, a modern day great in league. A potentially fearsome partnership with Cokanasiga in either code.


4. Centre – Kurtley Beale

Beale is no stranger to rugby league having grown up playing the sport as a youngster. The union full back would offer a different style to that of Tuilagi, but his agility, soft hands and fine running game would suit rugby league well anywhere in the backs.


5. Wing – Denny Solomona

Something of an unimaginative pick given his recent association with league, but the Sale winger had an incredible strike rate in his days as a professional league player.

Though he was brought up on rugby union, the New Zealand-born England international lit up Super League during his time with Castleford Tigers. His last year in the code before what many viewed as a controversial switch saw him break the all-time Super League record for tries in a season as he scored 40.

Tigers fans would surely welcome him back in an instant given the opportunity.

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