Webb has all ingredients to cook up storm for the Rhinos

Son of a pearl fisherman from Pacific Islands has a passion for the kitchen...and Challenge Cup final

More than any other club in the country, Leeds have built their success upon cultivating local talent. But they also know the value of a more exotic import and, in Brent Webb, they have a true citizen of Planet Rugby League.

Webb, who will play full-back for the Rhinos against Warrington in the Carnegie Challenge Cup final at Wembley on Saturday, was born on the Australian mainland, brought up in a part-Japanese family on the Torres Strait Islands between there and Papua New Guinea, plays for New Zealand and has been resident in England for the last four years.

"It's a beautiful part of the world and it's produced a fair few footballers," he says of his ancestral home. The legendary Mal Meninga is of Torres Strait heritage, as is the almost equally celebrated Wendell Sailor and the current Australian international Sam Thaiday.

The Japanese enters the mix via his grandfather, who was interned in Australia during World War Two and afterwards settled on the Islands as a pearl fisherman. It was from him that Webb inherited his passion for cooking, although, rather disappointingly, he chooses as his signature dish something as mainstream as a deluxe burger. "It doesn't sound much but when it's done right..."

Webb was playing in Brisbane in the second-tier Queensland Cup when he was discovered by Daniel Anderson, the then coach of the New Zealand Warriors and later of St Helens. He settled happily in Auckland, met his wife there and, after the three-year qualification period, became the Kiwi full-back as well.

In 2007, his career took another twist when he moved to the other side of the world to play for Leeds, where he has been an integral part of the side that won the last three Super League titles. Even after that, though, Wembley remains a bit special for him.

"I just have memories that, when I was a kid, the only English rugby league we saw was the Challenge Cup final," said Webb. "It was obviously a big stage and it always seemed to be Wigan playing. After four years here, I've realised how much it means to the players. We seem to have saved our best form for the cup this season."

Leeds will have to do it at Wembley without Jamie Peacock, the England captain who was ruled out this week for at least six months after knee reconstruction. "It's massive," says Webb of the loss of the front-rower. "He's a big part of our team and someone we look to to get us out of the difficult holes we get into. He'll be missed, but you have to look at it as a chance for someone else."

That someone else could be Greg Eastwood, another who had a foot in two camps as an Australian-based Kiwi before coming to England, suffering badly from injuries and failing to settle into life without his family. Provided Leeds can get a fee for him, he will be off at the end of the season but the irony is that, when he has played, he has been highly effective.

Warrington also have a player who knows he is moving on. Richie Mathers is being replaced as full-back next season by Huddersfield's Brett Hodgson, just as he was four years ago at Leeds by Webb. "He was leaving as I arrived, but I really rate Richie," said Webb. "He works really hard and comes up with some big plays for them in attack and defence."

There are similarities in the way the two play the position, both spending plenty of time in the attacking line as extra play-makers. It is the modern fashion for full-backs and Webb has helped to create it. "I think Richie is one of those players whose game has really come on under Tony Smith," he says of the former Leeds coach. "A lot of what Warrington have done is down to him. He's put a lot of confidence into their team."

The Wolves have plenty to be confident about. They are the Cup- holders, they are five points ahead of Leeds in the Super League table and you could make out a strong case for them as Wembley favourites.

Like Leeds, they also have a player who could make a decisive impact off the bench. Whereas the Rhinos' Eastwood is a damaging and deceptive runner, David Solomona is arguably the cleverest passer of the ball in the game – a man who can unlock the tightest of matches.

That – and the quality of the half-backs on both sides – is another factor that could make this a classic Wembley final. It is certainly one that is destined to be played in front of a full house, not to mention a worldwide television audience which, this year, will include more interest than usual on Moa, Badu, Muralug and the other 270 or so islands that make up the Torres Strait.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick