Our thanks to Andrew Ferguson for his 2014 piece recounting the story of Edward Larkin, who among ot...
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RUGBY LEAGUE - REMEMBERING THE NOUGHTIES TOP TEN MOST CONTROVERSIAL PLAYERS OF THE DECADE
Thanks to those who have commented so far, I know there have been some omissions from lists previously, but thanks for sharing your comments. If you want to discuss further, PM me on the Front Row Forums, the user name is Non Terminator.
Anyway, let's get into the list.
Note: Remember you may not agree with the list, it isn't perfect. No "top ten" list ever is, but, feel free to share a match you thought should've been in there. Share your memories of an amazing decade of rugby league.
10th - Andrew JOHNS The career of one of the greatest in the game was frowned upon a few months following his retirement. His arrest for fare evasion in London lead to rumours spreading about drug use throughout his career. It was revealed various people did know about this, but in an interview with Phil Gould he came clea. It's still debateable throughout fans when discussing about future accolades, including legends of the game calling for him to become an immortal.
9th - Mark GASNIER Gasnier was sacked from the New South Wales Origin side for sending "lewd" text messages early in the morning with team-mates to a woman. Later nicknamed "Fire Up Bitch", Gasnier also caused strife between Dragons supporters when he became one of the first high profile players to move to French Rugby.
8th - John HOPOATE Without actually doing anything major off the field, Hopoate gave himself a profile as one of the most controversial on-field players of the modern era. After..."gestures" against North Queensland players, Hopoate's career ended after knocking out young Shark Keith Galloway illegally.
7th - Reni MAITUA Reni, like other juniors, was caught in the controversial headlines early in his career for drink driving, but his real moment the spotlight was his positive sample for clenbuterol. This gave him a two year suspension to look forward to.
6th - Nate MYLES The crap of current Rugby League jokes. His time at the Sydney Roosters have been filled with issues, such as drink driving, breaking team curfews and...well...let us just call it defecating.
5th - Craig GOWER Before leaving to become an Italian Rugby player, Gower had an intriguing evening at a charity golf event. It was told he argued with people, groped the daughter of Wayne Pearce and chased Mitchell Pearce with a bottle. Add in public nudity, throwing knives and destroying a golf cart. That makes for an interesting night.
4th - Greg BIRD Bird was able to start his bad name by kneeing Rabbitoh winger Shane Marteene in the head, resulting in a long suspension. However, 2008 was the year he truly made his mark. He was arrested after an Origin match for failing to follow police instructions, but the worst was yet to come. He was charged with glassing his girlfriend Katie Milligan and attempting to blame it on a friend. He is yet to face a maximum of sixteen months imprisonment.
3rd - Todd CARNEY So many incidents to count the NRL even stopped him from playing for a whole year. After being caught for drink driving his license was suspended for five years. Well...that didn't stop him from driving I suppose. Later in the career he was also arrested for urinating on a man in a nightclub. After being sacked by Canberra for refusing to go on a five point plan, he went to Goulburn, but was banned from the city when he went on a rampage, damaging property.
2nd - Willie MASON During his time at the Bulldogs and Roosters, big Willie Mason gained a cult following, but his list of incidents lasts quite a bit. He was fined by the Bulldogs for testing positive to an amphetamine, and by the New South Wales side for unprofessional behaviour (forging signatures, heavy drinking and visiting brothels). He still maintained a view of being the most hated played by fans. In a Sydney Airport he caused a verbal dilemma with a female reporter. Soon after he was involved in a fight with former Dragon Richie Williams. He has calmed a bit with the Roosters, however he has been fined twice for public urination. Told you it was quite a list!
1st - Sonny-Bill WILLIAMS It shows how much football does mean to Australians when Sonny-Bill Williams is voted the most hated man in Australia. In his first few seasons he was convicted of drink driving multiple times. In 2007 he was caught in a hotel cubicle with Candice Falzon, causing controversy. A month later he was caught urinating on a wall, finally admitting he had an alcohol problem. Strangely, alcohol wasn't the biggest issue he faced. Mid-2008 he fled Australia and the Bulldogs club to join the French Rugby competition. This caused an end to their season, and their patience. The association had ended, the NRL threatened to never let him back in the league.