Fans are always going to have players that they either love or hate and this changes from person to person. Some players, however, are more widely hated than others. Maybe they are just misunderstood, maybe they have just been unlucky or maybe they deserve it. These are the top 10 most hated players currently in the NRL.
10. Willie Mason
Once upon a time Big Willie would have reigned supreme at the top of this list as the most hated player in the NRL but just like a fine wine he seems to have aged well. In the early years of his career he was engaged in a number of off-field controversies mostly related to his party-boy tendencies and his loud-mouth. Being part of a Bulldogs brand that was severely damaged didn’t help his personal image either. Over time he has converted many people to actually liking him through his humourous and nonchalant personality. Those who remember the past, however, are more reluctant to accept him.
9. Blake Ferguson
Dislike of Ferguson stems mostly from alleged off-field incidents and his apparent bad-boy persona that him and ex-teammate Josh Dugan portrayed. It does seem that since reaching the Sydney ‘Halfway House’ Roosters he has quietened down and focused on trying to turn things around. He has also expressed his desire to stay loyal to the club that gave him a chance.
8. Paul Gallen
Big Paully G will forever be haunted by that iconic image of him successfully “bringin’ back the biff” to Origin. While I’m sure there are plenty of New South Welshmen who believe he is a hero, the general consensus north of the border is that he is a horrible enemy.
7. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
This poor fella never catches a break from the fans or the referees. He always seems angry when he is playing and tends to lash out often which of course fans of other teams don’t like. In early 2015 he announced that he has actually been playing with a fractured sternum for the past 6 years which causes him pain. I would probably be pretty pissed off too if I was in pain every time I stepped on the footy field. Good on him for sticking it out.
6. James Graham
The fiery ranga from Britain cops a lot of heat for his outspoken behaviour on-field and his aggressive style of play. He received a particularly large burst of hatred after a certain incident involving Adam Reynolds that resulted in him doing some hard time on the sideline earlier this year. At the end of the day he is just a misunderstood pom who gets a little bit too passionate about his footy.
5. Jamie Soward
Jamie is another player who, go back 1 or 2 years, probably would have topped this list however he has gained back a bit of support since moving to the Panthers. Though he may still be blacklisted with the NSW origin team and still have a lot of people who do not like him. It was always a bit of an enigma as to why fans hated Jamie so much but they sure did hate him. Now at the Panthers he has a team that supports him and his attitude change has allowed him to focus and play some of the best footy of his career.
4. Mitchell Pearce
Mitchell Pearce’s story is very similar to Soward’s. People just don’t like the guy. Maybe they don’t like the look of him? The big difference is that hatred of Mitchell Pearce is channelled into a misguided belief that he should not play origin. A recent video uploaded to YouTube attempted to highlight the failure of Pearce on the Origin stage. Most of the video wasn’t even his fault or was simply Queensland players playing very well however the video has been used heavily as a point of reference. People also like to highlight Pearce’s winning record in Origin however what people seem to not understand is that in each of those State of Origin games there were 33 other players playing the same game.
3. Michael Ennis
There are definitely some experts at the art of complaining in the NRL but Michael Ennis is the equivalent of Michelangelo. He also takes the title of king ‘niggler’. With these two powers combined he is one annoying fella to watch on the TV screen. If only if were possible to shut up for once and just play some footy; imagine that world.
2. Greg Bird
Greg Bird; the man, the legend. Apart from having a resting grumpy face there are many reasons why he is disliked. He is the greatest enemy of Queenslanders and a liability to his own team. He has been reeking havoc on the NRL for over a decade with many antics including dangerous game play charges, allegedly sending inappropriate messages to Lara Bingle, allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, allegedly urinating on a police car and involvement in the ASADA cocaine scandal. Behaviour on and off the field has helped Bird to develop great relationships with his best mates; the sin-bin and the sideline. It’s certainly a good thing for his own sake that he’s not a bad football player.
1. Josh Reynolds
The Grub. Everyone hates this guy. It is hard not to. He seems like a good enough bloke off the field and the players will vouch for that but on the field it is a different story. He is renowned for his scumbag tactics, or ‘brain explosions’, which include tripping, hair pulling and just general unsportsmanlike behaviour which should not be seen in the NRL. These brain explosions are one of the reasons he was unable to retain his NSW jersey and why even his own club are unhappy with him. While some of the others have off-field issues that make them hated, Reynolds behaviour in the game sets him apart from the rest and puts the game of rugby league into disrepute. He is the number 1 most hated player in the NRL.