Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Five of the toughest, and five grubs

Josh Reynolds has to be at the top of the current list, 'Grub' is his nickname.
The sport of Rugby League has never been short of those willing to do ‘whatever it takes’ to win. Such a physical game sees opponents engage in acts that have the intensive purposes of doing what is required to win a game. These acts can be viewed in a number of ways; as tough physical elements one of the most gruelling sports in the world, as pain inflictors on opponents aiming to bring them down and out of the contest, or acts of thuggery designed to reduce another’s mental state of mind. The common theme is that the players are doing what they believe at the time, will help them win the game.

In recent years the ‘one punch and your off’ rule has allowed certain players to have free reign with such acts, that is they are not afraid of retribution, as there will be none. Over the weekend a number of players were involved in incidents that have led to suspensions. Whether it is a cheap shot, high tackle, ‘dog’ act, verbal stoush or rough play, the grubs are well known in today’s game because of the extensive television coverage. Sport/Life/Australia decided to examine just who are the biggest grubs and toughest players in the NRL.

The Grubs

Josh Reynolds

Almost renowned now for his ‘Rottweiler’ attitude of just not going away, the pesky and tearaway five-eighth has risen to the top of the game through his energetic yet not-give-a-stuff attitude. No other young player in the game rips in more than Josh Reynolds and his early mentor in Michael Ennis certainly did rub off on the Canterbury-Bankstown junior.  Andrew Johns summarised Reynolds efforts as “like driving at 120km/h all the time”. He also went on to say that “whilst its gets you places in quicker, in the short term, in the long term it catches up with you”. The ‘grub’ as he has been nicknamed would have to close to being marked the number one grub.

Paul Gallen

Many commentators in the media often state that Paul Gallen polarises people’s opinion; that you either hate him, or you love him. While there’s no doubt his hated in Queensland, you’d have trouble finding many fans in New South Wales outside the Shire that would preach their love for their own State of Origin captain. While Gallen had seemed to have cleaned up his image off the field before the ASADA drugs scandal hit, his on-fields efforts at times often take his team two-steps forward but one-step back. Credited with more statistical achievements than any of the other forward in the game today, Gallen’s toughness and commitment can never be questioned, but the G-Train’s discipline often lets him down. A penalty given away for a cheap shot too often leads to a try against his team, which ultimately lets down more people than just himself.  Fines, suspensions and public apologies, Gal’s had them all.

Dubbed the 'Bash Brothers' when they line up together, Greg Bird and Paul Gallen are a formidable pair.
(Photo courtesy of The Daily Telegraph)
Greg Bird

Greg Bird’s tackle on the weekend has resulted in a six-week suspension due to carry over points from pervious charges of the same nature. The tackle was described by Matthew Johns as “the perfect tackle five years ago” and whilst bird believed the referee “saw something else”, Peter Sterling was strong in his opinion that Bird had no angle to try and avoid the charge deeming it simply “a dumb tackle in today’s game”. But Bird is one of the hardest players in today’s game who retains the instincts of the player of previous decades. His hard-nosed and take-no-prisoners approach has proven invaluable at representative level particularly for the NSW blues, but to have Bird’s approach is a risky style, he’s one of the most penalised players in the game.

Michael Ennis

Dubbed the ‘Minister for trouble’ or something of the like by legendary commentator Ray Warren, Michael Ennis has to be one of the all-time grub’s of the game. He even has the honour from the annual Rugby League Week Players Poll. Ennis’ sly use of sledging and the thuggery components to his game elevate him to the very top of the game’s foul. For Ennis, it’s business as usual and his tactics seem to un-nerve some of the game’s biggest stars. Labelled ‘a grub’ by the cool and collected Nathan Hindmarsh after a fist-fight in 2012, Ennis took it in his stride. He has had running battles with Billy Slater, Robbie Farah and Jarryd Hayne over his career. Ennis seems to avoid suspension by using tactics within the realms of the rules, while the others on this list have visited the judiciary on numerous occasions.

Nate Myles

Nate Myles has proven he has one of the hardest heads in the NRL, although James Graham might protest. Myles is Queensland’s current go-to man to put the Blues players off their game. His face rubs, neck bends, knee twists and head charges only serve to fire up the New South Wales side and make Myles look like a goose. The man has one infamous off-field records but has found his stability on the Gold Coast. Not to suggest that hasn’t changed his style of play which can range from just running hard to head-high tackles.

The Toughest

James Graham

Many will argue Graham should be well and truly on the Grub list, and there is plenty to argue for with his crazed bite of Billy Slater’s ear in the 2012 NRL Grand Final, but Graham has a steel to him. He work rate is huge and loves to be involved in the thick of it.

Steve Matai

If Steve Matai isn’t out this weekend with a shoulder injury, you can be sure he’d be close to being out via suspension. Matai’s shots are usually reckless rather than dirty, and when a centre looks at the opposition team sheet before a game, the last name you’d want to see is S.  Matai. Manly’s enforcer for the last decade, Matai has pulled off some of the biggest hits in that time.

Beau Scott

Scott rose through the ranks virtually unheard of at Cronulla, but his emergence in the Wayne Bennet led Dragons in 2009 saw him become a State of Origin first pick, and a player the Blues relied upon for a toughness and force against the sublime Maroons. He taken it to Johnathan Thurston at club and origin level and in recent times had the entire Cowboys side wanting retribution on him.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

The Kiwi-enforcer is a plain rough-nut who loves the battle in the middle of the park. When a challenge comes his way, Hargreaves takes it head on and nothing is better than seeing him engaged in a full-game clash with another prop. He takes as many cheap shots as he gives out, and you could never say he can’t take what he gives.

Isaac Luke

Isaac Luke once ran a cannonball tackle at his own cousin Rangi Chase who was playing for England while the fired-up Luke had the Kiwi-fern over his heart. The spiteful tackle almost broke Chase’s leg and Luke was suspended for weeks. Just last year Luke had to sit out the Grand Final due to suspension and missed playing a part in South Sydney’s long awaited victory. He sure gives it out but Luke puts his body on the line in every game and gets up and walks away even after the hardest of hits, the type that knock you out.