Are we still the most hated?


UFO Hunter
NRL frontrunner Melbourne has overtaken Manly as rugby league's "Public Enemy No.1", with the latest grapple tackle feud reigniting ill-feeling between high-flying Storm and rival clubs.
Storm has waged war with six NRL counterparts in recent years, and this week it was again pinned as chief culprit in the contentious grapple tackle debate, a situation that yesterday prompted an angry response from Melbourne's camp.
Balmain legend Benny Elias believes the festering resentment will see non-Manly fans do the unthinkable and support the Sea Eagles should the top two sides on the NRL ladder play each other in the grand final.
"The sentiment has gone back into Manly whereas Melbourne, they've become the No. 1 enemy," Elias said.
"It's Melbourne and whoever's playing Melbourne - that's the way it'll happen.
"They hate Sydney down in Melbourne and we don't like them here either. We've got to have that because we're in New South Wales and they're in Victoria.
"It's looking like a Melbourne versus Manly grand final and I'd have to say all of Sydney would get behind Manly - and that is a change for the times.
"It's a tall-poppy syndrome. They are the leader and we don't like the leader. Manly have slowly but surely regained a lot of credibility in the public market.
"Everyone in Sydney would be barracking for Manly against Melbourne, very much so."
The latest grapple tackle debate has again soured relations between Brisbane and Storm.
North Queensland, Parramatta, Wests Tigers, Manly and the Bulldogs have also had public spats with Craig Bellamy's troops in recent times.
And fans in Queensland, where Storm once was considered a sentimental favourite with eight Queenslanders in its top-25 roster, have turned on Melbourne given the club's poor relationship with both the Broncos and the Cowboys.
The Cowboys-Storm feud dates back to round 26 of 2005, after which North Queensland prop Carl Webb copped a five-week ban for punching Storm opponent Ryan Hoffman in reaction to what the Queenslander regarded as a grapple tackle.
Brisbane has accused Melbourne of "grappling" since 2003 but the relationship between the two clubs seriously deteriorated only after last year's grand final stoush.
Parramatta chief executive Denis Fitzgerald kick-started ill-feeling between the Eels and Storm in 2004 by claiming there was no place for league in Victoria.
Ill-feeling between the two clubs still simmers, with Eels coach Michael Hagan saying this week that he feared for his players' well-being ahead of tomorrow night's clash against the Storm amid the grapple tackle debate.
Manly, Wests Tigers and the Bulldogs have also had notable run-ins with Melbourne


Journey Man
I don't know, but players like Cameron Smith, who I always rated very highly, has started to get that "dirty play" in his game. Same as Matt King.

Oh well, no-one can complain - they never get suspended (except for Crocker), and they are the # one team up until this weekend !!!

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