Trent Hodkinson’s season-ending broken-arm injury has left Canterbury with a mild goalkicking crisis, but the Bulldogs uncovered the unlikeliest of replacements in their 26-22 eclipse of the Warriors in Round 26.
After Tim Lafai missed with both of his conversion attempts during the first half, the reins were handed to front-rower Tim Browne – with spectacular results.
The 27-year-old prop, a veteran of 59 NRL games since debut for the blue-and-whites in 2010, drilled his maiden attempt in first grade from the sideline. The beautiful left-footed strike delighted his teammates and stunned the commentary team.
The 193cm and 113kg Browne finished the night with a perfect three-from-three record in the narrow victory, and may find himself as the Bulldogs’ front-line goalkicker when on the paddock during the finals. Moses Mbye has kicked 14 from 21 in Hodkinson’s absence earlier in the season, while Lafai had landed six goals from as many attempts in his first grade career prior to last night’s misses.
Could Browne eventually join the ranks of the exclusive band of prolific goalkicking props in premiership history?
Frank Burge: Selected at prop in the NSW Team of the Century (although he played much of his career in the backrow), tryscoring freak Burge kicked 49 goals for Glebe and topped a century of points in 1920. He also landed seven Test goals and accumulated another 32 in matches for NSW.
Arthur Oxford: Adept at prop, second-row or hooker, Oxford was one of the finest goalkickers of the pre-World War II era, landing 378 goals in first grade for South Sydney (1915-21) and Eastern Suburbs (1922-29), and more than 50 at representative level – including seven goals in five Tests for Australia.
Harry Bath: Regarded as the greatest forward to never have represented Australia, ‘The Old Fox’ – who spent the majority of his career in England – finished his career with the great St George premiership-winning juggernaut, setting an all-time record for most points in a season by a prop (205) in his farewell 1959 campaign.
Don Fox: A stalwart of the British club scene, Fox kicked 503 goals for Featherstone (1953-65) and 84 for Wakefield Trinity (1965-70) but is unfortunately most remembered for a tragic missed attempt, spraying an after-the-siren conversion from in front to consign Wakefield to a one-point loss in the 1968 Challenge Cup final.
Brian Davies: One of Queensland’s greatest-ever forwards and a veteran of 33 Tests for Australia, Davies kicked 89 goals during a four-season stint with Canterbury (1959-62).
Henry Tatana: Kiwi prop Tatana kicked 23 goals in nine Tests – including six in a 24-3 boilover against Australia in 1971. He was lured to Sydney and landed 265 goals in five seasons with Canterbury and St George, topping a century of points in four straight campaigns.
George Grant: Keeping the tradition of goalkicking St George props alive, Grant slotted 183 goals in just 51 first grade games – including 104 goals in the Dragons’ 1979 premiership-winning campaign.
Peter Brown: Now a player manager who handles the likes of Shaun Johnson and Manu Vatuvei, Brown was a prolific goalkicking prop who slotted 20 goals in 16 Tests for New Zealand from 1986-91 – including nine in one match against Papua New Guinea in 1988.
Lee Crooks: Tough ball-player Crooks kicked 43 goals in three seasons at Wests and Balmain, while he booted 17 in 19 Tests for Great Britain. But he was far more prolific on the English club scene, kicking over 1000 goals for Hull, Leeds and Castleford from 1980-97.
Gavin Hill: Wellington rugby union convert Hill kicked 82 goals in 47 games for Canterbury and the Warriors from 1992-96, and landed three goals at Test level for New Zealand.
Corey Parker: The ultra-durable lock – who recently overtook Darren Lockyer as the Broncos’ highest point-scorer – began his career as a burly prop, and spent most of 2014 starting in the Broncos’ front-row, landing 50 goals with the No.10 on his back.