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.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform