Top 5: Underrated Premiership Wingers

This is by far my favourite series to produce and seeing it on the agenda for this week's publication following a weekend of my beloved Wasps being smacked about by Sale at home and England being run through the media circus, brought a glimmer of light back into my darkened demeanour. Growing up, Wing was the only position I never really had a shot at; I actually did the reverse Rugby roundabout and went from Forward to Back. I always thought that Wingers were the guys that you shoved out wide because they had hands like bars of soap and threw passes that usually went a couple feet over your head. It actually turns out, at pro level anyway, they can actually be quite good! I'm just kidding of course. As usual, same rules apply, our candidates can't have appeared more than 10 times for their national side if in tier one or 20 times for their side if in tier two or below. Here is our list of 'Underrated Premiership Wingers'... Let's go!



5. Oriol Ripol (Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks, Worcester Warriors)


Even when I was the spritely age of 7/8, I knew that this guy was underrated. I used to watch him cut up the turf for Sale Sharks every weekend; unfortunately he was often overlooked due to other fantastic members of that back three like Robinson, Cueto and Hanley. As far as Spanish Rugby converts go, he's definitely towards the top of the list. Although he had short stints at Saints and the Warriors, it was at Sale where he really cut his teeth and became a try scoring machine. He was just such an exceptional finisher who used great footwork and an eye for a gap to often blow his opposite number away; I even felt the other team would often underestimate him. Ripol only played for Spain 17 times during a very dark era for trailing nations.


Premiership Appearances: 115

International Appearances: 17

Tries Scored: 31

Points Scored: 155





4. Tom Voyce (Wasps, Bath, Gloucester, London Welsh)


As a Wasps fan, I would love to have put Voyce right at the top of this list as he was a Wycombe-based icon for his time at Adams Park. Voyce had the unusual distinction of being a player that just seemed impossible to put down. I don't mean that he was a muscular goliath or anything like we see out of the Pacific Isles, but he just an amazing centre of gravity and legs that shed tackles so surprisingly easy. He also was equally skilled at Full Back where he plied his trade at Gloucester. The reason he appears further down this list was due to a woeful time spent in one of the worst Premiership outfits ever... Poor old London Welsh. His partnership with Sackey and Van Gisbergen will forever be one of the most formidable back three's in Premiership history. He was also the first person I ever saw score a try in a stadium during my first experience with my Dad home to Pertemp Bees... We lost that game.


Premiership Appearances: 200

International Appearances: 9

Tries Scored: 66

Points Scored: 330


@ Premiership Rugby




3. Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers, Wasps, Bristol Bears)


Again, Tom Varndell has a great shout for being number one on this list. His try scoring record is yet to be beaten (although Ashton is likely to overtake him) and he's also one of the top appearance makers in the league. However, he did have a couple of shaky years in which he was sent to Bedford to improve his trade. Even though he's always been a natural finisher with gas to burn, great feet and awe-inspiring presence, at Wasps is where he played his best Rugby. It's difficult to understand how poor Wasps were back around the early 2010's. On countless occasion's, it felt like they were favourites to go down, but Varndell just couldn't stop scoring and Wasps managed to keep avoiding the drop. His tackling improved, his kicking improved and suddenly he became this all-rounder who manipulated his own space and scored tries that just shouldn't have been. He also had a really impressive stint in a struggling Bristol side.


Premiership Appearances: 180

International Appearances: 4

Tries Scored: 92

Points Scored: 460






2. Marcel Garvey (Gloucester, Worcester)


This is a very different choice to those we've already listed. He's torch burned so very bright in the Premiership, for a far shorter period. His try scoring record in such a short amount of time is incredibly underrated; he was just so prolific. Heck, in his first game for Gloucester, he scored a hatrick against what was a decent Bristol outfit. Again, he had absolute gas and great step, but his size made him really difficult to pull down; he's fairly stout and not as tall as you'd imagine, so it was difficult to find where his legs ended and his body began... A nightmare if you're the type of defender who aims for the core. Not only was he a star player during Gloucester's best Premiership run, but he was a star player for an awful Worcester side. It's such a shame he left to join Castres when he did because it felt like England were about to come calling.


Premiership Appearances: 131

International Appearances: 0

Tries Scored: 33

Points Scored: 165


@ Premiership Rugby





1. Steve Hanley (Sale Sharks)


It's another Shark at the top of this list and a one club man as well! I only managed to catch the tale end of Hanley's career, not that it mattered, he was still awesome then! Although he retired early due to a persistent back injury, his legacy on that Sale wing will never be forgotten. An absolute try scoring machine, but not in the most conventional of ways. He was a big guy, but didn't necessarily use his strength to barrel his way over. He was quick, but not nearly as quick as others in the league at the time. He had a decent step but nothing in comparison to the likes of Robinson and Ripol in that back three. It must have been a mixture of his high match intelligence and great positioning; those rugby gloves are etched into my memory. I don't know how he did it, but he always beat his man and always looked a couple steps ahead of the opposition. Before Cueto broke his record, he seemed unbeatable at the top of the Premiership try chain; a record he would still have today if his career wasn't cut short by three/four years. He's also the most prolific on this list with the best tries-to-game ratio by a country mile.


Premiership Appearances: 135

International Appearances: 1

Tries Scored: 75

Points Scored: 375