Written by Callum Walker
Perhaps the lesser-known of the Paul brothers, Henry Paul began his England career at Wakefield Trinity. After impressing as an 18-year old on a Junior Kiwis’ tour, he earned full representative honours with the first-team, doing enough to impress scouts at Wakefield. Following 19 games in which he registered 111 points, Henry was supposed to move back to New Zealand for the 1994 season.
Henry had originally signed for the new Auckland Warriors (now New Zealand Warriors) club, but they released him as part of a deal that allowed Andy Platt to join Auckland from Wigan. As such, the Kiwi stayed in England and was signed by Wigan two years before the creation of Super League.
Stand-off, fullback or loose forward, Paul played 127 games over a period of five seasons from 1994 to 1998 for Wigan, accumulating 550 points. The playmaker showed his class almost immediately in the summer game; in his first season in Super League – aged 22 – Henry earned a place in the Super League Dream Team.
Henry won the last two finals of the Regal Trophy (1995 and 1996) with Wigan and played a major role in Wigan’s 1995 Challenge Cup win over Leeds and the Warriors’ 1998 Grand Final success over Leeds.
In September 1998, he moved to Yorkshire and specifically Bradford. Though the Bulls lost the 1999 Grand Final 6-8 to St Helens, Henry won the Harry Sunderland trophy for his performance that day, scoring a try – a famous 60-metre effort where he was sporting just one boot – and kicking the conversion.
In 2001 he was at the forefront of Bradford’s success in that year’s Grand Final, playing in the halves alongside brother Robbie. Henry kicked five goals in a 37-6 mauling of Wigan.
Not only was Henry making waves in the Super League, but he also won the Lance Todd trophy in the 2000 Challenge Cup, kicking four goals and directing the Bulls around the field as they beat rivals Leeds 24-18 for Bradford’s first Challenge Cup success in 51 years. In doing so, Henry became the first player to hold both the Lance Todd and Harry Sunderland trophies.
Although the New Zealander was at Bradford for just three seasons, he notched 86 appearances, kicking an incredible 350 goals and six drop-goals as well as scoring 29 tries. Whilst at Bradford, Henry set a goal-kicking record for consecutive goals (35), as well as for points and goals in a season with 404 points and 179 goals in 2000.
At the end of 2001 and aged 27, Rugby League and Bradford lost a maverick to Rugby Union as Henry tried – and succeeded – his hand with the other code, scoring 28 points on debut for Gloucester.
It wasn’t until 2006 and when he was in his early 30s, that Henry returned to Rugby League, this time with capital club Harlequins RL.
Again, the Kiwi spent three seasons at his new club, recording eight tries, 94 goals and two drop-goals in 61 appearances.
In 2007, Henry had the honour of receiving the Frontline Fairplay Index Award for his good behaviour on the field, although he did gain negative notoriety for appearing drunk at the Man of Steel awards at which he was given the accolade – something which he later apologised for.
At the end of 2008, the Kiwi reverted back to Rugby Union once more, this time with Leeds Carnegie, ending his renaissance with League for the last time.
Such an important player for all four of his English clubs, Henry earned 24 caps for his native New Zealand, registering a superb 121 points. He debuted in 1993 and made his last appearance in Kiwi colours in 2001.
The quieter of the two Paul brothers, Henry was by no means overshadowed. An astounding goal-kicker and ballplayer, he could turn a game on its head in the matter of seconds. With a wonderful sidestep and pace that could light up the field, Henry proved a hit in both codes – a feat which is very rarely heard of in the modern era.