LIST: Three union to league swaps which didn’t work out

As Gavin Henson gets set for his rugby league debut at the age of 39 this weekend, we look at three union stars who also made the code switch later in their careers, but it didn’t quite work out…

Luther Burrell

The most recent example of a union star heading for league saw Burrell, a 15-cap England centre, swap Northampton Saints for Warrington Wolves in 2019.

The now 33 year old had played league as a teenager and was keen to test himself in Super League, but things didn’t go as he’d planned.

Thanks started positively as he came off the bench and helped the Wolves to a 36-6 win at London Broncos in July.

He started two games thereafter; a 30-12 loss at home to eventual Grand Final winners St Helens and a 22-6 loss to Salford Red Devils on the road without troubling the scoresheet.

Warrington won the Challenge Cup in 2019 but Burrell was only on the fringes of the first team.

He then started 2020 as a regular fixture coming off the bench and had racked up five appearances by February, but Warrington were faltering with only two wins before the national Coronavirus lockdown took hold.

Burrell was unable to get the breakthrough he wanted after the season restarted, so returned to union with Newcastle Falcons having made a total of eight Super League appearances, including two starts and no tries.

The Huddersfield-born back has no hard feelings after his league spell, however, telling The Guardian: “I come back to rugby union as a better person and player, despite it not working out in league.

“I’ve got some Super League games under my belt, I’ve experienced another sport and I wouldn’t be where I am now without going to Warrington. Did it work out? No, clearly, but it’s all added to my rugby CV, if you like.”

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