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Rugby union converts - the hits and misses

Published 30/03/2016

Former rugby league star Jason Robinson was also a huge success in union
Former rugby league star Jason Robinson was also a huge success in union

Wigan star Josh Charnley has become the latest player to switch rugby codes from league to union after agreeing a deal with Aviva Premiership club Sale Sharks.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some of those who trod the same path before him,and assesses who were the hits and who the misses:

HITS

JASON ROBINSON

Unquestionably the biggest British cross-code success story, Robinson ended a glittering league career at Wigan by moving to Premiership club Sale in 2000. As in league, he dazzled as a brilliant broken-field runner and prolific try-scorer. He made a sparkling contribution to the 2001 British and Irish Lions' Australia tour, then played a major role in England being crowned 2003 world champions. Also featured during the 2007 World Cup final and posted 28 tries in 51 Tests.

CHRIS ASHTON

Made his league debut for Wigan as an 18-year-old wing and he shone in Super League before switching codes and joining Northampton in 2007. Combined electrifying pace with prolific try-scoring ability, which was a combination that served him well with Saints and his current club, reigning English champions Saracens. A 39-cap career has yielded 19 tries, including a spectacular length-of-the-field effort against Australia at Twickenham, and he appears on course for a return to the international arena when England tour Australia this summer.

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS

Centre of attention Williams has never been one to do things by halves, having enjoyed two spells in union and being a World Cup winner each time. He left Australian league side Canterbury Bulldogs in 2008 to join ambitious, big-spending French union club Toulon, before heading to Super Rugby outfit Canterbury Crusaders and helping New Zealand lift the 2011 World Cup. He then returned to league with Sydney Roosters, but moved back to union and added another World Cup triumph to his career portfolio last autumn. A box-office mix of pace and power, he is on course to represent New Zealand at this summer's Rio Olympics.

MISSES

HENRY PAUL

A New Zealand rugby league international, Paul enjoyed considerable success with Wigan and Bradford Bulls. He had a brief union flirtation with Bath in 1996, before joining their west country rivals Gloucester five years later. He played as a centre, full-back and wing, but despite collecting six England caps - he qualified for England via his Liverpool-born grandfather - Paul failed to cut the mustard as a 15-a-side international. On the sevens circuit, though, he shone for England, highlighted by winning a Commonwealth Games silver medal.

LESLEY VAINIKOLO

Nicknamed "The Volcano" powerful wing Vainikolo failed to erupt as a union player on the biggest stage. He made his name in league with Bradford Bulls and then scored five tries on his union debut for Gloucester, but, although club form continued to be strong, his five-cap union international career drew a blank on the score-sheet and he disappeared from the Test arena as quickly as he arrived. Moved to French club La Rochelle from Gloucester.

SAM BURGESS

Burgess' headline move from Australian league club South Sydney to Bath in October 2014 promised so much, but he returned to Australia barely a year later after an eventful, if brief, union career. His Bath debut was delayed following a serious facial injury suffered during the 2014 NRL grand final, and Burgess' union bow came as a centre. Despite clearly needing time to learn the game, he appeared to be elevated beyond his union station, culminating in being part of England's dismal 2015 World Cup campaign when they were pool-stage casualties. He then returned to South Sydney on a lucrative deal.

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