Five successful code hoppers

Benji Marshall is attempting to follow the footsteps of other league stars who have made it in rugby union. JEREMY PROOME looks at five of them.


Robinson made the most successful move from league to union. He primarily played the 13-man game with Wigan before making England's national side. He then switched codes and played with Bath and the Sale Sharks where he really made a name for himself. Robinson’s ability to step off both feet and a blistering turn of pace earned him the reputation as one of the best defender-beaters in the world. His incredible try in the 2003 World Cup final was evidence of his ability to finish at the most crucial of times.


The large Kiwi’s code-switch was one of the most controversial, but it couldn’t have been a better call. Williams walked out on his league club, the Bulldogs, to join Toulon in France, which was the first step towards his dream of playing for the All Blacks. Williams eventually brought his unparalleled offloading ability and power back to New Zealand where he thrived for the Crusaders and Chiefs in Super Rugby, and eventually, the All Blacks at the 2011 World Cup. While SBW is now back in the NRL with the Sydney Roosters, he is onboard with the Chiefs for 2015, and any team would be glad to have his name on the team sheet.


Folau is the most recent convert who’s put in a whole season of rugby union, and what a season it was. He matched Lote Tuqiri’s Wallabies try-scoring record of 10 tries in an international season, and he did it in his first year in rugby union. The new kid on the block proved that he belongs in the 15-man code and never showed a hint of nervousness in his introduction. His running and passing skills, honed by his time in league, and aerial abilities, polished up by his time in the AFL, have combined to make him one of the most dangerous fullbacks in the world in a short space of time.


Tuqiri became a Wallabies favourite due to his physical nature and try-scoring ways, but the Fijian-born winger's career kicked off with his time at the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL. Tuquiri switched codes in 2003 where he joined up with the Waratahs. His transition to rugby union proved to be successful, and his speed and strength gained him selection for the Wallabies, for whom he made his international union debut in June 2003 against Ireland, becoming Australia's 43rd dual-code rugby international.


Sailor’s train-like frame and head-first style made him one of the most feared wingers in world rugby during his time with the Wallabies. Between 2003 and 2006, Sailor racked up 37 caps for his country in rugby union, while also playing 47 games for the Reds and a season with the Waratahs before failing a drug test, which led to his banning from all professional sport for two years. Sailor’s physicality and personality on the field made him a star of the game and a successful code-switcher.

Photo: Teakura Moetaua/Getty Images