Both Super League and NRL have had their fair share of players who have bent the rules, so today we look at 13 of rugby league’s most eccentric characters in recent years…
Although he was never one to be constantly hogging the headlines, a catastrophic brain fade from Flower will certainly be remembered by many Super League for years to come. The Wigan prop forward became the centre of attention during the first few minutes of the 2014 Grand Final after making a tackle on St. Helens’ Lance Hohaia. In unbelievable fashion Flower would lose his cool as he would proceed to strike Hohaia not once but twice in the head, with the first knocking out the Saints man and with the game hardly having a chance to breathe, Flower was given his marching orders.
The former Aussie international was a defensive powerhouse during his time with the Canterbury Bulldogs in the early and mid-00s. There would be sledging and scandals that would hit the headlines and his altercations with the likes of Stuart Fielden and Jamie Peacock certainly stood out as one of his most prominent moments in 2006 in a game between Great Britain and Australia.
There is no denying Hardaker has been a great talent since joining Super League back in 2011, his performances for both the likes of Leeds and Castleford have been nothing short of exceptional winning several titles and accolades. However, throughout his time in rugby League his behaviour and mentality on and off the pitch has always been questionable. Now, alongside side this recent ban of 14 months, we have also seen Hardaker drop out and fined for his premature departure of the England World Cup squad in 2013 as well as making derogatory comments towards referee James Child.
Where to start? A maverick on and off the field, Chase’s off-field behaviour has got himself into trouble on more than one occasion. Since winning the Man of Steel in 2011, the former Castleford man had the world at his feet but has hit the headlines for mainly the wrong reasons. A skilful and versatile player with great ball handling skills would produce moments of sheer magic and class on the field but Chase now faces his most recent ban of two-years for breaking UKADA laws.
A once promising career saw Moore play for the likes St. Helens, Huddersfield and Wakefield. His best season coming in 2009 saw Moore named as hooker in the Super League dream team as well as making his only two caps for England the same year. However, in the last few years Moore has seemed to get in trouble more with the law than on the field due to misbehaviour issues that have now led to a 23-month prison sentence.
Hock spent the majority of his career with Wigan Warriors between 2003 and 2013. Hock’s career has also seen him turn out for both Great Britain and England throughout his career, however he could be a loose cannon on the pitch. If we look back to a game against Warrington which saw the second rower produce a moment of madness after making a tackle on Warrington’s Ben Harrison, he would proceed to make contact with the eye of Harrison before throwing a punch towards the Warrington player. Also, like Chase, Hock found himself on the end of a lengthy ban for breaking UKADA rules in 2009.
Fifita has been one of NRL’s top prop forwards in the last few years propelling Cronulla to their first title win in 2016 but talking about rap sheets, the Tongan native certainly has a lengthy one to his name. One of NRL’s biggest characters has endured a good few suspensions during his career as well as selected fines for improper conduct that has included alleged abuse towards a junior referee and a road rage incident in 2014.
Probably one of New Zealand’s biggest characters over the last ten years playing for South Sydney and the New Zealand international team. If we look back to the Four Nations in 2011 that ended very questionably for the Kiwi as he came under criticism for some cynical tackles made on opposing players. He would unbelievably even admit to attempting to break the leg of Ranji Chase during a game against England, which saw Luke seemingly wrench the leg of Chase.
Regarded by many as one of Super League’s top prop forwards, Watts has still found himself on the receiving end of good share of suspensions due in part to some ill-discipline. During his time with Hull KR between 2008 and 2012, Watts was suspended for ‘alleged breaches of club discipline’ that was said to involve a police chase. Along with this his time at Hull FC between 2012 and 2017 saw him round up four sending offs in a 13-month spell.
The Rooster’s star has been commanding force in the front row since joining in 2010, however he has seemingly spent more time at judicial hearings rather than on the pitch. In 2014, Hargreaves had received his sixth suspension in four years after another reckless challenge saw the 29-year-old Kiwi make contact with the head of Manly’s Glen Stewart.
Sonny Bill Williams
Probably one of the most recognisable players in Rugby today. The two-time NRL winner has claimed several accolades throughout his career showcasing a great combination of power and skill. The cross-code star has seen plenty of controversy throughout his career, going forth between different codes in controversial fashion has seen the New Zealander come under heavy fire from media and fans.
One of Brisbane Broncos top enforcers looks to have built himself a reputation as a not so popular figure both on the pitch and in the dressing room with suspensions coming his way. The Queensland representative in the past has been involved in team disputes while also being at the centre of an investigation of an alleged stomp on Parramatta Eels Tim Mannah.
As tough as they come, Morley endured rather successful career becoming the first Englishman to win league titles in Super League and the NRL as well as the Challenge Cup. He would consistently showcase his toughness and undeniable ability to get stuck in and no more so that in a game for Great Britain against Australia in 2003. The game would only just begin as Moz would announce his intent as he so often did by flattening a poor and unsuspecting Robbie Kearns with nothing short of a clothesline right from the kick off.