Since England are taking on New Zealand this week I thought itíd be a good time to remember some of the greatest players from that country to play for Leeds Rhinos, during the years Iíve watched the game. In recent years weíve seen the likes of Brent Webb, Greg Eastwood and Ali Lauiti'iti rip up Superleague defences in Rhinos colours at will. Out of these three Iíd say that Ali Lauiti'iti has given me the most joy with his brilliant ball handling skills, and especially that five try demolition of Wakefield in 2005. But heíll probably go down forever in Rhinos folklore when he scored the winning try against St Helens with an 80 metre run in the Grand Final Qualifier that same year.
Another player that deserves a lot of credit is Kylie Leuluai who has been solid ever since he joined us from Manley Sea Eagles in 2006. Heís never taken a backward step at Leeds, and his bone crunching tackles are an absolute joy to watch. Especially those in the 2007 at Knowsley Road where you could hear his efforts from the stands. Leeds lost that game 10 - 8 but they wasnít an unhappy face coming out of that ground that night.
Clinton Toopi is another player Iíll always remain fond of thanks to being a part of that 2007 Grand Final winning squad. Itís a shame he finished his Leeds career prematurely because of injury but Iím pleased that heís now doing okay in the NRL. Good luck with that Clinton.
If any New Zealander stood out in my early years of watching Leeds Rhinos itíd have to be the one and only Tonie Carroll. In 2001 he was an absolute dream to watch, and Headingley became exciting because we had, in my opinion, the best two centres in the world playing for us back then in the shape of Carroll and Senior. Tonieís ability to score hat tricks in consecutive games was something Iíve never seen before and he was soon to become a cult hero within the Headingley realm. He was in my opinion, the best Kiwi to ever play for Leeds Rhinos. Iím sure that some will want to debate with me on that one!
Finally I just want to thank every kiwi that has contributed to the Leeds Rhinos, and let the best team win this weekend in the internationals!