Wigan prop Ben Flower’s violent attack on St Helens’ diminutive five-eighth Lance Hohaia in the Super League grand final has shocked the rugby league world and the sporting community at large, attracting widespread condemnation. But it also dredged up memories of some of the code’s most crazy, savage and bizarre incidents. Here’s Commentary Box Sports’ Top 10 brain snaps in Australian rugby league history.
10. Josh Reynolds trips Ben Barba (2014)
Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds lived up to his nickname ‘Grub’ in a phenomenally ill-disciplined display against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium late in the 2014 regular season. He kicked out in a tackle and caught Sam Thaiday in the face, while a high tackle saw him sin-binned late in the match, but his deliberate trip on former club-mate Ben Barba was one of the dirtiest incidents of the season. Reynolds was suspended for three weeks.
9. Mitchell Allgood unleashes swinging arm, then punches Steve Matai (2013)
Front-rower Mitchell Allgood produced one of the most memorable moments of Parramatta’s 2013 wooden spoon season after coming up with a wild swinging arm on Manly forward Jamie Buhrer. Sea Eagles firebrand Steve Matai advanced on Allgood, who decided to retaliate first, slugging the Kiwi centre before he even laid a hand on the Eels prop. Allgood copped a two-match ban.
8. Wayne Chisholm poleaxes referee (1991)
South Sydney forward Wayne Chisholm made arguably the most infamous contact with a referee in premiership history during a 1991 match against Newcastle. Former All Black John Schuster had just taken an intercept and Chisholm moved across in his direction, but instead of cutting off the Knights centre, he crunched referee Geoff Weekes in a heavy tackle. The bizarre incident cost Chisholm more than two months on the sidelines courtesy of a 10-week suspension, charged with trying to gain an advantage by physically interfering with the referee. The former City Origin representative departed Souths at the end of the year after 109 first grade games with the club and retired following a disappointing season with Norths in 1992. Regrettably, footage of the memorable incident is virtually impossible to come by on the web.
7. Gorden Tallis goes berserk on Ben Ross (2003)
A renowned pugilist and hothead, Gorden Tallis was labelled the NRL’s resident grumpy old man after unloading on Penrith tyro Ben Ross in the opening round of 2003. The Brisbane skipper came to grips with young rival Ross in a seemingly innocuous confrontation, before unleashing a flurry of punches on the future Queensland Origin prop. Both players were sent to the sin-bin, but Tallis amazingly escaped censure from the judiciary.
6. David Fa’alogo punches Braith Anasta (2007)
Before he effectively ended coach Jason Taylor’s tenure at Souths by punching him during a ‘Mad Monday’ drinking session, rugged Kiwi prop David Fa’alogo incurred a heavy suspension for lashing out at Roosters playmaker Braith Anasta late in the 2007 season. Fa’alogo was rubbed out for seven weeks, missing the Rabbitohs’ historic finals appearance and the opening rounds of the 2008 season. Incredibly, Anasta was penalised after being slugged, and was later dismissed to the sin-bin for fighting.
5. Jaiman Lowe drops Brett Delaney (2007)
Jaiman Lowe may have provided the inspiration for Rabbitohs teammate Fa’alogo earlier in 2007, going after Gold Coast centre Brett Delaney following a play-the-ball disagreement and punching him in the face. Lowe was sent off after the ugly incident, but sensationally claimed the reason for his outburst was he had been grabbed by the testicles – a charge Delaney denied. The Souths forward copped four weeks.
4. James Graham bites Billy Slater (2012)
A heated scuffle broke out after Canterbury scored their first try of the 2012 grand final against Melbourne, with Bulldogs players going after Billy Slater for dropping his knees into try-scorer Sam Perrett. But James Graham took it way too far, latching onto Slater’s ear with his teeth for several seconds. The British Bulldog was contentiously allowed to remain on the field, but the blue-and-whites’ 14-4 loss to the Storm was compounded by the 12-week suspension handed down to Graham for his Mike Tyson-esque act.
3. Les Boyd breaks Daryl Brohman’s jaw (1983)
One of the most talented forwards of the 1970s and ’80s, but also one of the fieriest players of all time with a severe case of white-line fever, Les Boyd’s most infamous moment – of many – came in the 1983 Origin series opener. The NSW backrower lined up Daryl Brohman early in the match, cocking his elbow and hitting the Queensland prop square in the jaw in one of the most sickening incidents ever witnessed. Brohman’s broken jaw cost him a likely Test call-up, while Boyd was handed a 12-month suspension. Just a few matches into his 1984 return for Manly, he was banned for 15 months for gouging Canterbury hooker Billy Johnstone, effectively ending Boyd’s Australian premiership career.
2. John Hopoate’s flying elbow on Keith Galloway (2005)
This entire Top 10 could have been filled with John Hopoate’s indiscretions, but the infamous Manly, Wests Tigers and Northern Eagles winger’s worst on-field act was the one that ended his career. ‘Hoppa’s’ flying elbow to the head of tall teenaged Cronulla prop Keith Galloway early in 2005 shocked the rugby league world with its viciousness. He was outed for 17 weeks and released by Manly, ending the former Test representative’s stormy 12-season premiership tenure.
1. Danny Williams king-hits Mark O’Neill (2004)
Arguably the most infamous on-field incident of the NRL era, niggly Melbourne utility Danny Williams’ king-hit on Wests Tigers backrower Mark O’Neill provoked widespread outrage and resulted in an 18-week suspension, the longest dished out in the last quarter-century. An unrepentant Williams refused to apologise, claiming he was suffering post-traumatic amnesia at the time. It was brutal and cowardly – perhaps the only brain snap that can compare to Flower’s attack on Hohaia. The ban ended his NRL career, with Williams joining Super League outfit Harlequins at the end of the year.
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