Five Rugby League players who should probably just stop playing right now
WORDS BY JASPER BRUCE
As a physically unremarkable, straight, white man, one of my favourite things to do is critique professional sportspeople from the comfort of my own home. Over the years I’ve spent honing this craft, a few players have stood tall above the rest. These are the players I find myself magnetically drawn to heckle. The ones who, really, should be in the same place as I am right now- on the couch in trackies, not on the field embarrassing themselves and everyone on their team.
#5 Sam Thaiday
Like the fax machine which seems destined to lurk on the footpath out the front of your neighbour’s house until council clean-up, Sam Thaiday is taking up space in the NRL. Having proved himself more talented at saying stupid things than scoring tries in recent times, Thaiday fails to have the offensive flair he once had as a player, preferring instead to specialise in offensive comments on The Footy Show. Indeed, Thaiday’s 2017 campaign has been pretty light on statistically. The big man makes, on average, just over half of the metres of the top ranked forward in the game. Perhaps if he spent more time practicing fundamentals and less time consulting Sideshow Bob for hair advice, he wouldn’t be on this list.
#4 Jarryd Hayne
When The Hayne Plane landed back in the NRL after a two year voyage chasing dreams, many hoped that it would have maintained the superior engines, the soothing pre-flight hot towels and the high quality in-flight entertainment with which he have come to associate it. But on touchdown, it became apparent that the engines had succumb to bird-strike, the hot towels were lukewarm at best, and the in-flight entertainment was tainted by numerous episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Hayne has lacked impact since returning to the NRL, but what he hasn’t lacked, is his trademark inflated opinion of himself. In a code in which the actual gameplay is distracted from by individual contract dilemmas, off-colour media comments from players and drug scandals, the last thing that the NRL needs is someone who thinks he’s bigger than the game. The fact he was picked in the NSW Origin team is a bigger disgrace than when Nathan Merritt played on the wing a few years ago. It’s a no from me Jarryd.
Photographic evidence of The Hayne Plane’s damaged wings on arrival in Australia
#3 Robbie Farah
Like old mate Hayne Plane, Robbie Farah has never quite reached the heights of previous NRL ventures since arriving at his new club. His form has become so mediocre that even the perennial shit-storm of a boys club that is the NSW State Of Origin team will probably not even select him this season. This bloke doesn’t even get 80 minutes game time for Souths anymore. Ironically, after his incredibly successful efforts at destroying The Wests Tigers on and off the field last season, The Tigers now seem to be more of a form side than Robbie’s Rabbitohs. This bloke once said he was a better player than Cameron Smith (lol). Even if Farah can no longer turn up week in week out for his football team, he can at least take comfort in the fact that he regularly turns up at Sheaf Wednesdays to fraternise with recent GPS school graduates. I wish I was making that last bit up.
#2 Mitchell Moses
When Mitchell Moses ran for school captain in primary school, I have absolutely no doubt that he was that kid who promised he could put Coke in the bubblers. Like so many before him, Moses rates his skills as a five-eighth, and his soft drink-implementing abilities, much more highly than what is realistic given his rudimentary abilities. And like the kid who thought he could put Coke in the bubblers, what is decidedly upsetting is that everyone continues to believe Moses may one day prove himself as something more than a mediocre footballer or Coke-in-bubbler-coordinator. Like the Year 3 teacher on the verge of mid-life crisis in the back row of the assembly hall, however, I’ve heard this story all too many times before. Moses’ failed attempts at leaving the Tigers midway through this season were also, to say the least, petulant and hilarious.
#1 Paul Gallen
Sometimes I wonder if Paul Gallen will be re-incarnated as a lumberjack in a future life. He’s got all the right character traits: a jolly smile, an enjoyment of breaking things down in a physical manner and a garden gnome-esque facial structure. This aside though, ‘Gal’ is highly qualified in more than just lumberjacking. Paul Gallen is a talented, even prodigious, complainer. No Sunday afternoon on the hill at Shark Park would be complete without a pack of Winnie Blues, more beers than Sharks have finals series victories, and a dramatic tirade from The Shire’s finest thespian. There’s something anaphylactic about Gallen’s ability to overreact to even the smallest of things. What’s more, in a game where the forward pack is basically ornamental, Gallen’s actual opinion of his role on the field is undermined by the fact that he is, at the end of the day, just a glorified battering ram. He also runs with his tongue stuck out.