Clash of the Codes: A rugby league XV to play union
Watch the 'Clash of the Codes' matches between Wigan and Bath from 1996 at 7pm and 9pm on Sky Sports Arena on Friday.
Last Updated: 08/05/20 4:20pm
With Sky Sports re-running the 'Clash of the Codes' matches between Wigan and Bath on Friday, we try to imagine what the teams would look like if a similar match were to take place today.
Yesterday we put together a rugby union XIII to play in a league match and now we are imagining what a rugby league XV to play union might look like.
We have trawled Super League and the NRL to bring together this all-star team, and you can see who made it into our side below…
- Wigan vs Bath: When rugby's wall came down
- Wigan vs Bath: Where are they now?
- Harrison's 'Clash of the Codes' memories
Full-back and wingers
The full-back role does not differ too much between the codes, although having one who can kick in union makes them a useful asset. That is why we have gone with Jonny Lomax in this position, who has experience of playing there for St Helens as well.
With his reputation as the fastest man in rugby league, New South Wales and Australia flyer Josh Addo-Carr get one of the spots on the wing and would be able to utilise that pace to exploit gaps in the defensive line.
His compatriot Kalyn Ponga, who has the mesmerising ability to step defenders at close quarters and darts through holes he creates, would be perfect out wide as well.
With a strong all-round game and the ability to make the most of having room to run into, Jake Connor seems like an ideal fit for the outside centre berth in this team - even if he would prefer to play in the halves at league.
There is one man who stands out as a candidate for the inside centre shirt and that is none other than cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams, who performed the role with distinction for the All Blacks during his nine years in the 15-man code.
The fly-half is arguably the heartbeat of any team in rugby union, pulling the strings and organising the side, along with needing to have a strong kicking game. That is why we think Catalans Dragons half James Maloney would slot in well here.
Along with similar attributes, the role of the scrum-half shares similarities with the hooker in rugby league in terms of being first to the ball. We could see Castleford Tigers hooker Paul McShane excelling there, particularly if he can get quick ball at a ruck and dart at the defence.
The rugby league players would have a disadvantage at the scrum due to it being merely a way of quickly restarting the game in the 13-man code rather than the contest it is in union, but there are still plenty of props with the physical attributes required.
Luke Thompson - rated by many as the best prop in league at present - and St Helens team-mate Alex Walmsley would put up some stiff resistance, as well as having the ball-carrying ability to get over the gain-line and make valuable metres.
It is a similar dilemma when it comes to finding a hooker, who would be responsible for the line-out throws too, but Hull FC's Danny Houghton certainly has the defensive attributes required as he is regularly the leading tackler in Super League and is a threat with the ball in hand.
Again, we have gone for physical presence in the two lock positions, as well as a bit of height to help out when it comes to the line-out.
It is two internationals who get these roles, with Tongan star Jason Taumalolo and Australia captain Boyd Cordner bringing their size and strength to the team.
The position of flanker was eliminated in rugby league in 1906 when teams were reduced from 15-a-side to 13-a-side, but there are still candidates to fill these two places.
It is easy to imagine the 'Togan Terminator' Manu Ma'u would be a menace the breakdown and hunting opponents to shut down attacks, as would Wigan Warriors and England captain Sean O'Loughlin.
Finally, the No. 8 role goes to someone who plays as a back in rugby league but has that hard-charging, line-busting running which would make him a big threat there. Step forward, Konrad Hurrell.