Use Your Head Dummy: Classic NRL Blunders


We’ve all had those days at work where life in general goes completely pear-shaped. Things get broken or lost, messages mixed up and we can practically hear the thoughts of co-workers drilling into our brains: “What’s that numpty going to do next?”

These days are also experienced by NRL players, and their brain snap moments are compounded by the fact that more often than not they’re broadcast to a national audience. While we commoners may have to cope with a bit of stick from our peers for a month or so these guys are haunted by brain farts their entire lives.

Originally this piece was to be entitled Something Something Falcon, in honour of the classic footage of Mario Fenech being struck in the head with a football. Falcons occur on a pretty frequent basis nowadays, so I decided to cast the net a bit wider. The following examples of dopey derpiness are not in any particular order, although I do reserve the non-existent top spot for Martin Bella, who had a truly vintage year of blundering in 1994.

Nathan Merritt bombs a dead set try

Round 1 of the 2010 season saw the Bunnies take on the Roosters in the first Ch9 Sunday game of the year. The Roosters decimated South 36-10, and one of the reasons this happens is Nathan Merritt’s abysmal failure to score whilst in the clear. That’s right, not a single Roosters player between him and the line. The closest defender/chaser was still four metres adrift when Merritt, thighs pumping way too high, knocked the ball from his own hand. An absolute coach killer of a dropped ball.

Sonny Bill Slip ‘n’ Slide

Everyone’s least favourite code hopping jerk scores a numpty award for this effort in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. Having gone to all the trouble of beating the defence and making his way over the line Silly Bill Willy forgets to do the priority thing when scoring a try: ground the ball. Unable to brake his momentum in time he slips and goes dead in goal, looking like a dope to boot.

Cherry Evans shapes to pass, reshapes Horo instead

The majority of falcons occur around the play-the-ball, usually because one of the forward pack is day dreaming and hasn’t heard the call, resulting in a Steeden to the bonce. What makes this falcon so amusing is the look of concentration on DCE’s face as he carefully shapes a pass not intended for Horo at all. Horo, clearly running decoy, doesn’t even have his hands up, and cops a satisfying shot to the gob.

Justin Hodges and the Debut from Hell

Everyone gets nervous when their career goes up a notch, but Hodges is a sure fire contender for one of the worst rep debuts of all time. Dropped ball, poor bomb defusing and brain snap in goal passing all accumulate for an absolute shocker of an Origin game for the young Queenslander. He tries to pass in goal a second time, and is quickly benched after his mistake leads to a try. Good call that.

Martin Bella wins 1994

Justin Hodges may have had numerous errors throughout his Origin debut but Martin Bella wins the all-time shocker crown for his efforts in 1994. His first blunder comes during a State of Origin match, where after becoming disoriented in a tackle he proceeds to play the ball in the wrong direction. Most players would be satisfied with this level of fail for one season, but Bella then goes on to top this by dropping the ball off the opening kick-off during the 1994 grand final against the Canberra Raiders.

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