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27th March 2020, 17:59 | 125

#RFL125 Factfile | Ellery Hanley

#RFL125 Factfile | Ellery Hanley

Three-time Man of Steel Award winner

On this day in 1961, Rugby League legend Ellery Hanley MBE was born.

Hanley is widely regarded as one of the greatest players ever after spells in England with Bradford Northern, Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos as well as three stints Down Under which saw him spend time with Balmain Tigers and Western Suburbs. 

He represented Great Britain on 36 occasions, scoring 20 tries before going on to coach the side during the 1994 Ashes Series. Hanley also coached St Helens in 1999 and Doncaster in 2008. 

During his playing career Hanley won the Man of Steel Award a record three times as well earning the Lance Todd Trophy in 1989. 

In January 1990, he was awarded an MBE for his services to Rugby League and was induced into the Rugby Football League Hall of Fame in 2005.

Hanley’s playing career began with Bradford Northern making a try-scoring debut on 26th November 1978 in a Division One fixture against Rochdale Hornets.  

During the 1984-85 season – his final with the club – Hanley became the first player to score more than 50 tries in a season since Alf Ellaby, and the first non-winger to reach the figure for 70 years. 

In 1985, after making 126 appearances for the club, Hanley left Bradford to join Wigan for a fee of £150,000. Hanley finished his first season with 35 tries before going on to score 63 tries the following year; an all-time record for a non-winger. Hanley would go on to be awarded the Man of Steel award in 1987.

During his time with Wigan, Hanley won the Challenge Cup on two occasions, the Championship three times and the World Club Challenge in 1987. 

Hanley would move to Balmain Tigers in in 1988 and help them to their first Grand Final since 1969 before a short spell with Western Suburbs.

He would move back to England – this time with Leeds – in 1991 as a player and coach for a sum of £250,000. Hanley twice helped Leeds to the Challenge Cup final, but the Rhinos were beaten by his former club Wigan in consecutive seasons. 

Hanley would finish his playing career back at Balmain before going on to coach St Helens and Doncaster.