Bigger and stronger is nothing without enthusiasm

RUGBY league may well be the most brutal body-contact sport most of us have witnessed, but that does not always mean that the bigger and stronger the player, the more venomously they ply their trade.

Having only ever watched players put their bodies on the line at this level, it is possibly a little unfair to pass judgment on who might be tougher than the next bloke, but after 30-odd years covering the game I feel qualified to comment.

And it irks me to see human monsters in our game waste their God-given gifts.

Pound for pound, Trevor Gillmeister was one of the toughest rugby league players I have seen play the game. And I'm not just referring to the night he climbed out of his hospital bed to lead Queensland to victory in Origin III, 1995.

When I first saw the Axe play - at Brisbane Norths in the early 80s - he weighed around 80kgs. But for most of his 233 NRL games, three Tests and 22 Origin appearances, he tipped the scales at a touch under 90kg.

For a second rower, that was small.

But there was nothing miniature about his efforts. While his axe-like defence was his trademark, he carted the ball as aggressively as anyone.

I have often said that if Gilly was 5cm taller and 15kgs heavier, he'd now be in jail. With that body, on the field he'd have been a murder weapon.

I look at some of the monsters playing the game today and wonder what carnage they would create if they had the Trevor Gillmeister mindset, courage, madness - whatever is the apt description.

And Tony Williams from the Bulldogs is my chief target.

Recently signed to a four-year deal for a king's ransom, Williams has hardly been sighted in his first two outings for the 'Dogs.

Even Peter Sterling, the world's nicest bloke, offered a veiled criticism of Williams' efforts during Thursday's televised match.

Williams weighs 120kg, and is 192cm. In anyone's language, that is a big man. Yet in 160 minutes this year he has made just two tackle busts.


I recall a Williams' interview last year just after he signed with the Bulldogs where he conceded he had been lacking enthusiasm, but promised to be more destructive at his new club.

Coach Des Hasler must have believed him, but I doubt many others did.

Unless his contribution increases alarmingly over the next few weeks, Hasler will be under pressure to dump Williams when Kasiano, Pritchard and Graham return.

And on what I have seen so far, even 19-year-old giant rookie David Klemmer - 199cm, 120kg - is well ahead of the man they call T Rex.

Topics:  nrl opinion sonny bill williams

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