Who are the biggest hitters in league, rugby?
TOBY ROBSON AND SAM WORTHINGTON
Has anyone seen two bigger tackles than those produced by Hurricanes hooker Motu Matu'u against the Melbourne Rebels at Westpac Stadium last Saturday night?
It got us thinking, so the challenge was put to rugby writer Toby Robson and league writer Sam Worthington to come up with the five biggest hitters in their respective codes in recent memory. Some notables missed the cut like rugby's Sam Tuitupou, mainly because most of his hits were illegal. Here are the findings.
1 Brian Lima, The Chiropractor
The Samoan wing's nickname says it all really. The Chiropractor was literally able to perform spinal adjustments with his cannon ball tackles. Often opponents didn't see Lima coming, making the results all the more cringeworthy. Few escaped his radar, including the player himself, and Lima knocked himself out cold on a number of occasions. Poor technique didn't perturb his seek and destroy mantra and that was, perhaps, what made him so feared. When he finally retired after five Rugby World Cups, players the world over heaved a collective sigh of relief.
2 Jerry Collins, The Terminator
Colin Charvis most famously bore the brunt of one of Collins' king hits in Hamilton, in 2003, a tackle that saw All Blacks captain Tana Umaga famously come to the aid of the Welsh captain to remove his mouth guard. Collins' ferocious approach was evident even at St Pat's Town, where he terrorised local first XVs, and for the Northern United rugby club and carried on at all levels. Sometimes high, always hard, Collins made all ball carriers think twice.
3 Trevor Leota, Smash Em
The complete absence of a neck made the Samoan hooker the perfect human battering ram. Many a player felt the shoulder or top of his head as they ran into what can only be described as a human cube. Leota built a cult following with Wasps in the late 1990s before struggles with weight and fitness saw him eventually cut adrift. During his Wasps tenure Brits labelled his hits not destructive but "Leotive". And he was once quoted as saying his philosophy was "hit first, flowers later".
4 Alesana Tuilagi, The Samoan Bulldozer
At 1.85m and 117kg Tuilagi dwarfs most backs and his penchant for coming off his wing is renowned. His long career with Leicester Tigers was packed with bone-shuddering hits, but his power came to prominence in New Zealand when he terrorised Australia in the build up to last year's Rugby World Cup. Rod Davies has his shoulder imprinted in his test jumper as do many others. News that Tuilagi has signed with Ricoh is nothing but bad news for anyone plying their trade in Japan.
5 Motu Matu'u, The Anaesthetist
Three tackles have elevated the Hurricanes reserve hooker to legendary status. Matt Hodgson, Mark Gerrard and Lachlan Mitchell can all attest to the immense power Matu'u generates through his calves, hips and thighs. At 108kg and 1.84m, Matu'u is already at the perfect level to aim for opponents' chests. The remarkable thing about his three tackles has been that they all look totally legal. The Hurricanes' remaining opponents are officially on notice.
1 Steve Matai, The Hitman
The Manly and Kiwis enforcer added to his lengthy rap sheet by knocking out Danny Galea with a swinging arm on Sunday. Matai will miss two matches after pleading guilty to the careless high-tackle charge and conservative estimates are he has now clocked up 5182km driving to and from the judiciary. Matai is believed to be the world's toughest man with cornrows and regularly plays on with shoulder injuries. Wellington fans got a first-hand look at Matai's ''tackling'' technique in 2007 when he left Mark Gasnier concussed on the Westpac Stadium turf. Australian coach Ricky Stuart labelled Matai a ``cheap shot merchant'' and Willie Mason implored referee Steve Ganson to: ``Send the f....er off.'' Ganson obliged.
2 Ruben Wiki, Jake The Muss
The Kiwis, Canberra and Warriors hardman played a variety of positions during an illustrious career but was consistent in one aspect leaving opposition players prone on the grass. Maybe it was his well-documented addiction to kava, maybe it was because his wife, Santa, seemed just as tough as he was. Not content with tackling people really hard, Wiki also perfected the ``offensive smashed em bro'' late in his career. Iosia Soliola decided he was better off at St Helens after this little beauty at Mt Smart: youtube.com/watch?v=2zJJMvhb5qg
3 David Kidwell, Kid, Kiddy
He never truly fulfilled his potential as a player but Kidwell will always be a New Zealand idol for the lesson he dished out to Willie Mason in 2006. Mason directed a verbal spray towards the Kiwis during the haka and Kidwell responded with a huge shoulder charge that left Mason dazed, confused and with a black eye: youtube.com/watch?v=DISgZPrePfk. ``All I know is I have never been rattled like that in my life,'' Mason admitted. Kidwell is now an assistant coach with the Melbourne Storm. and helped the Crusaders with their tackling earlier this year.
4 Mark Geyer, MG
The New South Welshman is best known for his State of Origin stink with Queenslander Wally Lewis but Geyer was also pretty good at tackling people. Geyer continues to hit hard in his role as a media commentator and in 2010 revealed that during his career he laced his beer with speed and smoked marijuana daily.
5 Frank Pritchard, Cranky, Tank
Like Kidwell, Pritchard probably hasn't reached his full potential and has found it hard to choose between playing for Samoa or New Zealand. But all is forgiven because of Pritchard's monster hit on shameful turncoat Karmichael Hunt. The Auckland-born Hunt had to be taken off the park in his debut for Australia in 2006. In 2007, Pritchard and his brother Tom were involved in a violent confrontation in Sydney. His brother received four knife wounds. Pritchard was stabbed in the hand and had to undergo an operation.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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