Australian sport: It’s about intimidation
Kevin Muscat - king of the intimidators (AAP)
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On a global scale, Australian sport is renowned for many things. Having almost as many football codes as states. Fans throwing inflatable marsupials. A fairly limited and repetitive list of chants.
Australian players though are widely recognised for one thing: intimidation.
Perhaps it’s the effect of an eternal chip on our convict shoulder, however, per head of population Australian sport has done a great job of producing athletes that by and large leave our opponents pre-emptively reaching for the magic spray.
Whilst we would never like to big note ourselves and claim to be the biggest, the most technical or the most patient players on the field, there is a part of our psych that wants so bad to be the tough little bastard sitting in the dressing shed covered in betadine.
This is reflected in the sport stars we choose to worship for being tough, and the ones we like to pay out for being, well, ‘a bit of a cat’.
But what makes your average pro-athlete an intimidator? Is it Goliath like size? Brute strength? A face with more stiches than Frankenstein? In contact sports, in particular the football codes, quite possibly.
No doubt in any sport where Newton’s second law comes into play being a big rooster is going to gain you some cred in the pecking order. This not necessarily the case though.
Quite simply an intimidator is someone an opponent doesn’t like coming up against.
This means there’s room for the smart, the skilful and the, err, scumbag to take on the principal position of putting off the opposition.
Thus we can discern footy’s intimidators come in many shapes and sizes.
But enough fence sitting. Let’s crown these scary bastards.
With a love of big hits, your rugby league intimidator looks something like you used to think lived in your cupboard as a little kid, only now thanks to sports science he can also run like the wind. Blokes like Manu Vatuvei, Fui Fui Moi Moi… but since they don’t qualify on residential grounds, I’m going to nominate Paul Gallen.
Scary for the fact that like the Terminator he can seemingly be bashed and belted and blown up with uzis all night ’till you think he’s going to give up, only to score the winning try with a skilful play in the last minute of the match.
An unstoppable rugby league machine with an Easter Island type noggin and a taste for niggle.
In rugby union, David Pocock intimidates people just switching from his suit to his jersey in the sheds. However unlike some players who look like bodybuilders and play like bankers Pocock, like Gallen above, manages to back up brawn with brains. So much so that he’s one of the few current Australian players that the All Blacks would be happy to see sipping a Steinlager.
Australian Rules, with its large amount of off the ball time to ‘acquaint’ yourself with your opposite number, is ripe for some good old fashioned intimidation. Jonathon Brown, the man with the iron face and half brother of Andre the Giant, gets the nod here.
While he comes across as a lovely chap off the field, this only makes you think that he saves up every tiny little annoyance from during the week to take it out on the poor schmuck standing in his shadow on Saturday.
And as for the beautiful game, well, there’s many a local lad plying his trade in the A-league or overseas who you’d hate to see as your opposite. For pure skill a bloke like Tim Cahill is a class above, however I would still rather mark him than Kevin Muscat.
Sure, the bloke’s been retired for a couple of years now, but do you really think that would stop him from jumping the fence and scything you down on the spot just to see you cry? Your tears are what keeps him young!
So that’s my list sports fans-anyone game to name their own list of footy intimidators?
Go on, promise I won’t tell them you did.
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious