Feast yer eyes ..
Manly have 5 players nominated ... and here's the rub .. one's a halfback, one's a winger, one centre and 2 back rowers ..
25 in 25: Who's heaviest hitter of NRL era - Morley, Matai, SBW, Taufua, Radley, Plum, Burgess?Story by Paul Suttor • 10h ago
The 25th season of the NRL is done and dusted so to commemorate the first quarter-century of this instalment of the premiership, The Roar is looking back at the 25 best players and moments in 25 categories.
We have already gone through the best fullbacks, wingers, locks, players to never make Origin, coaches, captains, halfbacks, front-rowers, goal-kickers, recruits and Grand Final moments of the era.
It’s time to look at the heavy hitters, the players who rattled their opponents with thunderous tackles that sent them backwards and simultaneously into next week.
Although the shoulder charge has been outlawed in recent years, the trend for players to rush out of the line to put on a big hit is still part of the modern game.
Each player has been judged on their collective efforts from 1998 onwards, not including their efforts prior to that season, or if they’re an active player, up until 2022, without speculating on how their career might play out over next season and beyond.
The top 10 – the best of the best1 Adrian Morley
2 Steve Matai
3 Sam Burgess
4 Nigel Plum
5 Sonny Bill Williams
6 Jorge Taufua
7 Gorden Tallis
8 Victor Radley
9 Geoff Toovey
10 Tonie Carroll
Morley made a lasting impact in six seasons at the Roosters, highlighted by the 2002 Grand Final win over the Warriors. He was suspended several times because he would often sail too close to the wind but his ability to run out of the line and clean up an opponent was a game-changer for the Roosters.
Matai patrolled the left edge for Manly in a 12-year career in which he would blindside playmakers looking to make a break out wide by rushing up and crunching them with a perfectly brutal tackling technique.
Burgess was cut from the same cloth as English compatriot Morley who occasionally got it wrong when his big hits collected ball runners too high but his aggression was key to South Sydney breaking their premiership drought in 2014.
Plum is not the biggest name – a journeyman forward at the Roosters, Raiders and Panthers from 2005-15 over 150 games – he was regularly nominated by his peers as the defender who left players rattled with his driving defence.
SBW made the shoulder charge his trademark during his five-year stint at the Bulldogs to launch his unique dual international rugby career, using his granite-like imposing frame to stop rivals in their tracks with little care for self preservation.
Taufua proved that wingers can tackle when he took up the baton from Matai at Manly by hurtling in to hit opponents with his 2019 bell-ringer on Cameron Munster going viral worldwide.
Tallis was more renowned for his damaging runs but his hits in defence were no less intimidating for Brisbane, Queensland and Australia.
Radley, aka Victor the Inflictor, is a throwback to Trevor Gillmeister a generation ago – a smaller back-rower who drives up into the ribcages to maximise damage on unwitting ball carriers.
Toovey is easily the smallest player on this list but he sat many much-larger opponents on their back with his technically pure style whether at halfback or hooker for the Sea Eagles, Blues or Kangaroos.
Carroll is another Bronco from the turn of the century who was well known for hitting the ball up with vigour but could also make a massive difference at the defensive end.
Best of the rest – elite performers11 Peter Ryan
12 Justin Olam
13 Brad Thorn
14 Ruben Wiki
15 James Fisher-Harris
16 Petero Civoniceva
17 Neville Costigan
18 Roy Asotasi
19 Anthony Watmough
20 Solomon Haumono
Ryan was known as “the Hit Man” in Brisbane’s premiership-winning teams of the late 1990s and has gone on to become a specialist tackling consultant in both rugby codes.
Olam is a nugget of Papua New Guinean muscle who has been the closest thing the NRL has seen to Matai when it comes to a centre who can flatten forwards with regularity during his five seasons at the Storm.
Thorn is and was a big human who would envelop ball runners in his bear-like presence, giving Brisbane’s pack yet another imposing presence during a couple of stints in a 200-game NRL career.
Wiki, also known as Jake The Mus, started out bashing opponents with big hits from the centres at Canberra and 300 games later, was still doing the same after moving into the forwards and returning home to the Warriors.
Fisher-Harris is the best of the current crop of forwards when it comes to relentless hits that the Panthers prop peels off to leave opponents battered and bruised in the middle third of the field.
Civoniceva was another who didn’t necessarily make highlight plays in defence but his non-stop defence, combined with his size and strength over a lengthy career, meant he was a player that opponents looked to avoid when hitting the ball up.
Costigan was an under-sized forward compared to many of his contemporaries but he punched well above his weight with his big hits at the Broncos, Raiders and Dragons.
Asotasi didn’t say much but he didn’t need to when he could level opponents with relative ease during his 12-year career with Canterbury, South Sydney, New Zealand and Samoa.
Watmough would often go kapow at the drop of a hat for Manly, caring little about his own safety or that of his target as he launched his frame at full speed in defence.
Haumono was such a talent who could have been one of the best players in the NRL but was never able to keep his career on track before becoming a boxer but he certainly left a mark on countless opponents with his stinging tackles.
The final five21 Sika Manu
22 Stephen Kearney
23 Wade Graham
24 Josh Papalii
25 Jaydn Su’A
Manu and Kearney gave Melbourne’s pack plenty of punch, while Graham in his younger days at Cronulla had terrific timing when stalking opponents down the left edge.