In my last article, I picked a team of UK Test players who made it to the grand final in Australia, and there were quite a number of talented players to choose from.
It hasn’t all been one-way traffic, though, and there has been a long history of Australian players heading to the Old Dart to try their luck. Many of them met with success, some even playing in the Challenge Cup decider.
So, here’s a team of Aussies Test players who made it all the way to the English Challenge Cup final. Not necessarily the best players, though, as greats like Brett Kenny, Jamie Lyon and Graham Eadie have been overlooked, but an interesting team nevertheless.
The selection criterion are:
•Represented Australia at Test level; and
•Played in a Challenge Cup final from 1970 onwards.
1. John Dorahy
Dorahy had three seasons with Hull Kingston Rovers and played five-eighth in their 1986 Challenge Cup final against Castleford, losing 15-14. A fine fullback, he played two Tests for Australia against New Zealand in 1978.
2. Matt Sing
Matt Sing played on the wing for Hull FC when they went down to St Helens in the 2008 final. The speedster played 13 Tests for Australia between 1995 and 2005.
3. Gene Miles
Gene Miles was one of the best players to ever come out of Queensland and he notched up 15 Test appearances for Australia. He just had one season in England in 1991-92, but that was enough to pick up a Challenge Cup final win when his star-studded Wigan team crushed St Helens 48-16.
4. Matt King
The big outside back played almost as many games in the UK as he did in Australia, spending four years with the Warrington Wolves between 2008 and 2011. He was part of Warrington’s victories in both 2009 and 2010, firstly against Huddersfield 25-16, and then against Leeds 30-6. Before he made the move to England, he played ten Tests for Australia.
5. Michael De Vere
De Vere was a handy winger and a very good goal kicker who won three premierships with the Broncos, including the 1997 Super League premiership, and played four Tests for Australia in 2003 and 2004. He headed to England in 2005 to hook up with the Huddersfield Giants, who were defeated in the 2006 Challenge Cup final 42-12 by St Helens.
6. Chris Anderson
Better known as an outstanding winger who clocked up 230 games for Canterbury-Bankstown, 11 games for NSW and 12 Tests for Australia, Anderson finished his career in England with Halifax where he predominantly played as a five-eighth. He captained the team to a famous 19-18 over St Helens in 1987 and then backed up as coach when Halifax were defeated in the final the following year.
7. Peter Sterling
Sterling was a multiple premiership winning halfback for Parramatta and one of the best halves to play the game in the modern era. He dominated the halfback position for Australia in the 1980s, playing in 18 Tests. Sterling played for Hull FC in the 1983-84 Australian off-season and was in the team that went down 28-24 to Wigan in the 1984 final. Sterling’s Parramatta teammate Brett Kenny starred for the opposition.
8. Mark O’Meley
O’Meley was a frightening sight, particularly when he was on the football field, and was a regular in the Australian Test team between 2004 and 2006. He finished his career in England with a three-year stint with Hull FC, and was part of their team that went down 16-0 to Wigan in the 2013 Cup final.
9. Danny Buderus
Buderus was a Newcastle Knights legend and also played 25 Tests for Australia between 2001 and 2006. He left Newcastle at the end of 2008 to have three years in England with the Leeds Rhinos, playing for the club in both the 2010 and 2011 finals. Leeds lost 30-6 to Warrington in 2010 and fell short again in 2011, losing to Wigan 28-18.
10. Darren Britt
Britt was a Canterbury-Bankstown fan favourite and club captain who played nine Tests for Australia between 1998 and 2000. He headed to England to finish his career with St Helens, and was part of the team that lost the 2002 Cup final to Wigan, 21-12.
11. Chris McKenna
Chris McKenna is a player who might slip under the radar for many league fans, but the talented centre and second rower had quite a career, with 339 games for eight clubs in his 16 years in the game, eight origins for Queensland and two Test matches for Australia.
He played in two Challenge Cup finals for Leeds, losing both. He played centre in their 2003 loss to Bradford, 22-20, and in the second row two years later in their 25-24 loss to Hull.
12. John Muggleton
Muggleton picked up three premierships during his time at Parramatta and played three Tests for Australia in 1982. He tried his luck in England with Hull in the ’84-85 and ’85-86 Australian off-seasons and was part of Hull’s unsuccessful ’84-85 Challenge Cup campaign when they were defeated in the final 28-24 by Wigan.
13. Paul Vautin
The famed Footy Show host and Queensland legend was quite the player in his day and played 13 Tests for his country. He had one season with St Helens in 1989 and captained them to the Challenge Cup Final, where they were beaten 27-0 by an all-star Wigan team.
14. Shaun Berrigan
Berrigan was the ultimate utility player, and was equally at home at centre, hooker, in the halves or off the bench. He played 13 Tests for Australia and headed to England in 2008 after nine years with Brisbane. He played three seasons with Hull FC, the highlight of which was the 2008 Cup final, where Hull were defeated 28-16 by St Helens.
15. Gavin Miller
Miller was an exceptional back rower who was not only tough as they come but had great ball skills. He played two Tests for Australia in 1988 and was part of Hull’s team that lost the 1986 Challenge Cup final 15-14 to Castleford.
16. Jason Croker
Croker was one of the best club men to ever wear a Raiders jersey, and was effective in almost any position on the field. He played five Tests for Australia and finished his career with Catalans in France, and ran out in the second row in their 2007 Challenge Cup loss to St Helens by 30-8.
17. David Fairleigh
The North Sydney Bears great was one of the best forwards going around in the 1990s and played 15 Tests for Australia between 1994 and 1996. His career swan song was a season with St Helens when they won the Cup final 13-6 against Bradford.