Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Official NRL Grub Rankings 2015 - Part Two

You can read part one here. It starts the countdown from 43, and gets through the first 16 players, so we commence part two at #27. Part one also explains some of the basic rationale behind the rankings.

Group 4: LARVAE
All doubt removed - a grub is born

27. David Shillington
It is nearly impossible to be sent off in the NRL, as referees are terrified of making big decisions that could influence games, also known as doing their job.

Shillington defied the odds in Round 22 by deciding to express his frustration about the Raiders loss and likely exclusion from finals contention through a couple of attempted headbutts. It earned him a late inclusion on this list.

26. Anthony Watmough
Just a serial niggler and sledger.

25. Chris Sandow
When I started this list, Sandow was still in the NRL – he has now been exiled to playing for the Warrington Wolves in Superleague after a slightly grubby parting from the Eels.

If footballers were dogs, Sandow would be a little annoying yappy one. That probably tries to root your leg.

I don't think there is another player that talks so much on-field. And being one of the weakest defenders in the competition, mostly due to his small stature, does not stop him attempting some ridiculous big shots and (illegal) shoulder charges.

He will be missed.

24. Steve Matai
Matai knows how to put on a big hit. But there is a fine line between a highlight reel shot and a trip to the judiciary. It was a line Matai crossed constantly early his career – 20 of his 23 weeks suspended during his career were in his first six years in the NRL. The next five seasons have been much cleaner, but the grub label is hard to shake.

It doesn't help his reputation that he suffers nerve damage in his shoulder that often means he comes out of tackles looking hurt. Nobody likes a guy that can dish it out and appears to not be able to take it. 

23. Beau Scott
Scott is an old-fashioned player. He offers little in attack, but his wide defensive enforcer role made him a key player in a premiership winning side, as well as a regular NSW callup in usually futile attempts to keep Inglis quiet. It's a role that often means rushing up on star players and sometimes they get hit late. When that player is Jonathan Thurston, things really escalate.

22. Andrew Fifita
I don't think you can produce Fifita's output of metres and runs without getting grubby, but his reputation is accentuated by ill-discipline and dumb play. He gives away a lot of dumb penalties and has the sloppiest play-the-ball in the history of rugby league. Fifita also once said that when lifted in tackles he attempts to land head first to earn penalties.

Age shall not weary these veterans – they may have mellowed but still have some tricks

21. Sam Thaiday
Thaiday is ranked 21st... 21 is a multiple of three... 3rd man Thaiday!

20. Willie Mason
It feels like he has been sledging and getting suspended forever.

19. Glenn Stewart
Of course, lots of players stay down in tackles, take dives, and make other dubious decisions to give their teams an advantage. But Stewart might be the first to openly admit it. This season he admitted that he prevented a video reviewed try by pretending to be obstructed in defense by a decoy runner. 

Footy has a strange ethical code that makes this act as grubby, as say, punching someone in the face as part of a brawl that spills over the sideline.

Oh yeah, Stewart has totally done that too. He was also a central figure in the Battle of Brookvale. More on that in part three.

18. Justin Hodges
I know Justin Hodges has been around awhile, but I was still surprised during the Origin series when Ray Warren mentioned on commentary that he debuted in 2002. That's 14 seasons of Origin!

In that time he must have made a million smart-arsed comments, smirked or laughed in the faces of thousands of opponents, and patted hundreds of disgruntled Blues heads.

He probably also played some decent footy.

In some ways, it would be a fitting end to his grubby career if he missed the grand final after being suspended for a spear tackle.

Stage 6: PUPAE
The point-of-no-return – permanent reputation for grubbiness going to be hard to shake

17. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
JWH is perhaps the best triple threat in the NRL at present. I don't think any player has combined niggling in tackles, high shots, and sledging with such proficiency this season.

16. David Klemmer
The player Corey Parker suggested should show some respect during Origin. I believe Klemmer's response included an 'F' and a 'C'. Before and after that confrontation with Parker, Klemmer was acting like a crazy loose cannon in a way not seen in Origin by a NSW player since perhaps Mark Geyer.

He was a key player in that time the Bulldogs abused a referee and incited a crowd riot. More on that in part three too.

15. Clint Newton
I think Newton is still around the NRL somewhere. In 2004, he was suspended for 12 weeks for tackling with his elbow.

14. Kade Snowden
Kade Snowden once shoulder charged Ray Thompson. It cost him a seven week suspension, and Thompson three metal plates and ten screws. He is otherwise a judiciary regular. It's hard to be a good front-rower and not get grubby.

13. Richard Fa'aoso
Spear tackles happen. They don't normally happen twice in one game. To the same player. By the same player.

Incredibly prior to this madness, Fa'aoso only had one suspension in eight seasons in the NRL. This might help explain the ridiculous character reference by the victims (Inglis) teammate in this video, that also includes the tackle:

Only in the NRL can a player getting repeatedly dropped on his head be considered his own fault. 

12. Matt Prior
If you're only going to ever commit one grubby act, make it count:

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