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.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
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

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?