Notable league to rugby converts

  • 18/07/2013

BRAD THORN - The benchmark

Dual international Thorn played a total of 200 rugby league games for Brisbane in two separate stints (1994-2000 and 2005-2007). Between and after those stints he played for Super Rugby's Crusaders and racked up 60 caps with the All Blacks as a lock, culminating in the 2011 World Cup final triumph. The 38-year-old has signed with the Highlanders for a second season in 2014.

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS - Most controversial

Restless superstar Williams walked out on NRL club Canterbury mid-season in 2008 to play with French rugby side Toulon for two seasons. Went home to New Zealand to join the Crusaders and played for 19 Tests for the All Blacks, including bit parts in the 2011 World Cup win before a dominant 2012 Test season as an offloading centre when he also won a Super Rugby title with the Chiefs. Had a short, rich stint in Japan club rugby before a successful return to the NRL with the Sydney Roosters this season.

LOTE TUQIRI - Fast adapter

The Fiji-born Tuqiri was a leading try-scorer for Brisbane during his first three years in the NRL from 1999. On top of 99 games for the Broncos, he played six Origin matches for Queensland and nine Tests for Australia. A powerhouse winger, he had little trouble adapting to rugby union in 2003, scoring a try in the World Cup final the same year. Played Super Rugby with the NSW Waratahs (2003-09) and earned 67 Test caps with the Wallabies, including two World Cups, before returning to the NRL's Wests Tigers in 2010.

MAT ROGERS - The all-rounder

The dual-code international wedged a successful rugby union career with the NSW Waratahs and Wallabies between two stints in the NRL - first with Cronulla (1995-2001) and then with newcomers Gold Coast (2007-2011). He boasts 11 Test caps with the Kangaroos and 45 with the Wallabies. Versatile like Berrick Barnes, the quick and elusive Rogers played in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final and played five-eighth, fullback, centre and wing at times in union.


Started his career in the NRL with Brisbane in 2005, but - after just nine first grade appearances - switched to Super Rugby franchise Queensland Reds the following year before moving on to NSW Waratahs. He's played 51 Tests for the Wallabies as a five-eighth, inside centre or fullback. Small for the game, he suffered numerous head knocks and injuries.

WENDELL SAILOR - The trend-setter

Poached by the Australian Rugby Union amid huge headlines in 2002, Sailor set a path followed by contemporaries Tuqiri, Rogers and others. The one-man publicity machine left rugby league after nine years and 189 games with Brisbane, 16 Tests for the Kangaroos and 14 Origins for Queensland. He played for the Queensland Reds and then the NSW Waratahs, only to return to the NRL in 2008 and added another 33 NRL games at St George Illawarra before retiring in 2009.

ISRAEL FOLAU - The new boy

Playing NRL for the Melbourne Storm (2007-08), Folau broke the record for most tries in a debut year. He again starred for Brisbane the following two seasons, adding seven Test caps for Australia and five Queensland Origin appearances in the process. A 13-game sojourn in AFL with newbies GWS in 2012 yielded little as he struggled badly to adapt to a very different game. But the powerhouse outside back made an impressive switch to rugby with the NSW Waratahs and was a standout for the Wallabies against the British Lions after just 13 Super Rugby games.


Made his NRL debut with Brisbane in 2004 and went on to play 125 games for the Broncos, 11 Tests for Australia and 10 Origin matches for Queensland. He switched to rugby in 2009 for a 15-game stint with French club Biarritz before taking up his huge money deal with fledgling AFL club Gold Coast.



A one-club man with the Sydney Roosters from 1998 to 2006, the City Origin representative crossed to Super Rugby in 2007. The 18-cap Wallaby centre played three seasons at the Western Force then one with the NSW Waratahs in 2011 before heading to French club rugby. Seldom spectacular, Cross was a solid, strong-tackling centre in union.


After eight years with NRL clubs Newcastle and Parramatta, the NSW and Australia representative converted to rugby in 2008. He played 20 games for the NSW Waratahs and four for the Wallabies as a centre but never really fulfilled his potential in an injury-marred stint, before switching back to the NRL's Knights where he remains.


French flavour. The centre with the famous name featured in 141 NRL games for St George Illawarra before leaving for French rugby club Stade Francais in 2008. He returned to the Dragons in 2010, playing another 33 games and winning a premiership. The Australian representative retired in 2011. Played all his union in France where he proved handy without dominating.


The veteran of 234 NRL games left Canberra in 2006 to join Super Rugby's Queensland Reds for two seasons. He later moved to Irish rugby club Ulster, before returning to rugby league with Welsh side the Crusaders for the 2010-11 Super League seasons.


The New Zealander played for the Warriors, Newcastle and Tonga during his six-year NRL career, but switched to Super Rugby club the Melbourne Rebels in 2011. He leaves the Rebels this year as their highest try-scorer to date as he heads to a Japanese club. Big, powerful winger who won two Wallaby caps.


source: newshub archive