SAM Thaiday’s attack on Jesse Bromwich during Thursday night’s match has drawn plenty of condemnation, but ‘Third Man’ Thaiday’s low act pales in comparison to the worst we’ve seen on the field.
So we’ve gone through the records and pulled out the files of rugby league’s worst offenders …
DIRTY ACT: Sam Thaiday attacks player’s injured hand
“I was not thinking about grabbing his balls, I was not thinking about that,” Sam Burgess said in the aftermath of his much-publicised squirrel grip on Melbourne centre Will Chambers. The Pommy enforcer’s reach-around was missed by refs and commentators during the game, but nothing escapes the all-seeing TV cameras, not even a hand in the darkest regions.
Sentence: Suspended for two games with an early guilty plea.
GALLEN’S GRUBBY GRAB
When you consider the regard in which Paul Gallen is now mostly held, don’t you feel just a little bit dirty when you recall his raking of Gold Coast’s Anthony Laffranchi in 2008? Laffranchi had not long returned to the field after a clash of heads with the Sharks skipper him with 10 stitches and Gallen treated him to more of the same, raking at his face, pulling off his bandage and tearing his stitches. Claret everywhere, media outcry, dogs and cats living together!
In the same game Titans utility Josh Graham also accused Gallen of getting too friendly. “He grabbed my wheels and gave them a bit of a squeeze, 100 per cent,” Graham said at the time. “He didn’t just grab one wheel. He grabbed the whole package and it hurt.”
Sentence: Three weeks on the sidelines
WHEN ORIGIN WAS A MAN’S GAME
1983 is a long time ago now. Australia won the America’s Cup. BMX Bandits was released. And Les Boyd all but ended Darryl Brohman’s State of Origin career on his Maroons debut with a swinging elbow, shattering Big Marn’s jaw. Brohman missed the rest of the season, sued Boyd for a reported $30,000 settlement, and still carries the scars to this day: “I am happy for him not to be part of my life and he would feel the same.”
Sentence: Boyd was suspended for 12 months
While we’re on Origin, we can’t go without mentioning Chris “Choppy” Close’s rough treatment of Eric Grothe in the 1981 series. As play slowed after Grothe hit the deck dazed and confused after a tackle, Close did the sporting thing — grabbed his opponent by the hair and delivered two solid backhand slaps to his face, the most insulting hit of all. Then Choppy picked up the ball and scored a try. Grubby — or just Origin?
Sentence: The adulation of Queenslanders
HOPPA’S DIGITAL PENETRATION
Perhaps he was just encouraging men of a certain age to get a prostate check, but former Wests Tigers winger John Hopoate instead suggested his offensive use of a single digit on Cowboys players Glenn Morrison, Peter Jones and Paul Bowman was a wedgie. “It wasn’t a wedgie,” Jones said. “I think I know the difference between a wedgie and someone sticking their finger up my bum.” Thank God for that.
Sentence: Banned for 12 weeks and released by the club
EYE CAN’T LOOK
Dragons halfback Steve Linnane’s 1987 eye gouge on now Fox Sports commentator Greg Alexander is perhaps one of the most notorious fouls in the game’s history, with Linnane said to have almost pulled Brandy’s eye out. Thank God no footage survives for the twisted YouTube generation.
Sentence: Suspended for 20 weeks
T HE UNCONSCIOUS KING HIT
When Danny Williams faced the music for his king hit on Wests Tigers second rower Mark O’Neill, his defence at the NRL judiciary of “post-traumatic amnesia” from a tackle by O’Neill was almost as cowardly as the hit itself. After receiving the longest suspension since Steve Linnane in 1987, Williams left the NRL for England and retired the following year.
Sentence: A well-deserved 18 games
PACKER CAN’T WAIT
“Good win when u gotta go u gotta go lol.” That was how former Warriors forward Russell Packer responded on social media after being caught on camera taking a leak on the hallowed Lang Park turf before a game against the Broncos. The Warriors beat the Broncos 56-18 that night, so whatever Packer did, it seemed to work.
Sentence: Warriors fined $15,000
Maybe it was an act of love or perhaps he was just hungry — but Canterbury forward James Graham couldn’t contain his inner Bulldog when confronted with Billy Slater’s mouth-watering-looking ear in the 2012 decider. Graham denied nibbling the Storm full-back’s lughole at the NRL judiciary — but that didn’t stop him copping a ban.
Sentence: Suspended for 12 weeks
KNEE, MEET FACE
Now we all know what a sensitive gentleman Greg Bird has become, it’s strange to think back to when he got done for kneeing Shane Marteene in the face during a Sharks-Rabbitohs game when he was just 19. It’s that sort of incident that really announces a teenage talent to keep an eye on.
Sentence: Suspended for two weeks
Originally published as Grubbiest acts in league’s history