1st April 2020, 11:35 | 125

#RFL125 Greatest Team Contender | St Helens

An unstoppable St Helens side from 2006

The latest #RFL125 poll is now live and voting is open for the Greatest Team! 

There are five legendary teams up for selection and the next side is St Helens’ treble-winning side from 2006; the second of three teams to achieve the feat in the Super League era.

The Season

The 2006 season was an unforgettable one for St Helens who romped to all three major honours – the Challenge Cup, the League Leaders’ Shield and Super League – losing just four games throughout the whole campaign.

Their season got underway with 13 consecutive victories in all competitions with the Saints scoring over 30 points in eight of these wins. St Helens’ Challenge Cup campaign began at the end of March with a dominant 56-6 victory over Doncaster and this was a sign of things to come in the cup competition with St Helens cruising to the trophy. 

A fifth round 42-18 victory was followed by a huge 56-10 win over Catalans and a 50-0 semi-final demolition of Hull Kingston Rovers, setting up a Twickenham clash with Huddersfield. A similar result followed with St Helens winning in comfortable fashion, 42-12, with Jon Wilkin, Jason Cayless, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Sean Long, Jamie Lyon and Willie Talau on the scoresheet.

Back-to-back losses in June could have halted St Helens but they pushed on to win ten of their remaining 11 league games from late June to mid-September. In each of St Helens’ four losses in the 2006 campaign they were never beaten by more than four points. Daniel Anderson’s side would finish the regular season on 48 points; a total which was only beaten last season by St Helens’ 2019 squad, however they played an extra fixture. 

St Helens edged out Hull FC in the Qualifying Semi-Final of the Super League play-offs before meeting the Black and Whites at Old Trafford two weeks later. It was another comfortable final victory for the Saints who ran out 26-4 victors at the Theatre of Dreams. Kieron Cunningham, Ade Gardner, Francis Meli, Leon Pryce and Willie Talau were the scorers.

The Players 

This St Helens side were led by the indominable Paul Sculthorpe who had twice been named Man of Steel in previous seasons. 

However, the 2006 season would see the Man of Steel Award be handed to mercurial full-back Paul Wellens who crossed for 22 tries as well as helped St Helens become the toughest side in the league in defence.

Ade Garnder topped the try-scoring ranks for St Helens in 2006 crossing for a huge 31 tries while star-signing Jamie Lyon – who arrived in pre-season from Parramatta Eels - scored 22 tries and slotted 163 successful conversions.   

The side were led around the park by one of the best half-back combinations to play in Super League in the form of Sean Long and Leon Pryce while cult hero Kieron Cunningham was an ever-present at hooker.

Often on the bench were youthful duo James Roby and James Graham who would go on to become two of England and Great Britain Rugby League’s biggest stars. 

The Coach 

Daniel Anderson joined St Helens after three successful seasons with NRL side New Zealand Warriors with Anderson being named the Dally M Coach of the Year in 2002.

He replaced Ian Millward at St Helens in 2005 and by 2006 and created an almost unbeatable treble-winning side. For this, he was named as the BBC Coach of the Year at the Sports Personality Awards becoming the first-ever Rugby League coach to win the award. He was also named the Super League Coach of the Year for both 2006 and 2007.

Anderson would lead St Helens to three Challenge Cup triumphs, three consecutive Super League Grand Finals with one victory and a famous World Club Challenge win over Brisbane Broncos in 2007. 

The former New Zealand Head Coach left St Helens in 2008 to coach NRL side Parramatta Eels but did return in 2012 for a two-game spell as the Exiles boss to face England. 

The Honours

Challenge Cup

League Leaders’ Shield

Super League

World Club Challenge (2007) 

The Squad in Full

Francis Meli, Jason Cayless, Willie Talau, Jason Hooper, Jamie Lyon, Nick Fozzard, Paul Sculthorpe, Sean Long, Paul Anderson, Lee Gilmour, Leon Pryce, Vinnie Anderson, Paul Wellens, Kieron Cunningham, Ade Gardner, Ian Hardman, James Roby, Mike Bennett, Jon Wilkin, James Graham, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Scott Moore, Paul Clough, Matty Smith, Steve Tyrer, Dean McGilvray, Craig Littler, Gareth Langley, Craig Ashall, Ian Webster, Paul Leyland 


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