Whingers and winners: Anasta, and the players we love to hate

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Braith Anasta is no longer the man to build a premiership-winning team around. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)

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Let’s face it, no matter how much you love a sport there’s always going to be a bloke paid to play it who makes you want to spear-tackle the telly out the living room window.

Often this is with good reason. Maybe he’s the sort of bloke who changes into his Speedos and looks for the ten-metre tower if brushed nanoseconds after kicking the ball.

Maybe he’s the bloke who follows the ref around like a lost two year old at the Easter show permanently looking like he’s about to burst into tears.

Maybe he’s just an ugly menacing caveman who would be making threats to the metalwork teacher in Silverwater penitentiary if he wasn’t playing footy.

Or, maybe he’s just a successful young man quietly going about his business in the rough and tumble world of professional rugby league.

Come again?

Yes that’s right, despite the prevalence of a tonne of players more evil than Skeletor playing in the NRL, many fans choose to boo the game’s more vanilla players. This issue was again brought to the forefront this week with the sniping surrounding Braith ‘Most Over-rated’ Anasta’s signing with Wests Tigers.

While the issues of whether or not Anasta has passed his prime or even reached his potential have been well debated, it’s surprising that he induced that much bile. He can string a few words together, has managed to string more than a few glamours, and isn’t a particularly grubby player.

You could argue that this is just petty jealousy from angry under-fed fantasy footy trolls, but it’s not that simple.

If the saying is that perception is nine tenths of the truth, inject this saying with a bunch of ‘roids and feed it raw meat five times a day and you have the rugby league fan’s perception of players.

Fans get to freely choose who they want to champion and who they want to hate, sometimes for the most trivial of reasons. It doesn’t matter how many times the Daily Planet runs a photo of Braith handing out free spray tan vouchers to the Bondi homeless. If he milked a penalty against your team in the 28th minute of round 13, 2005, then there’s a good chance you’ve got this clip in your favourites list.

I’ve always found it fascinating some of the players people have grudges against. I have a mate who has an irrational hatred of Steve Menzies. Steve Menzies?! Most people wouldn’t brake if an octogenarian wearing a Manly jersey was crossing the road, yet Tom Raudonikis would give Beaver his last Winnie Red and first-born cattle dog. The bloke is 56 years old and still going round.

Another bloke I work with turns into a frothing madman at the very mention of Peter Wallace – and he’s a Broncos fan. Never quite got over that field goal he kicked in 2007 against Brisbane, and still can’t bring himself to read any Ginger Meggs comic strips.

Two seemingly agreeable, nice-guy players, yet despised to the point of stomach ulcers by two otherwise normal contributing members of society for trivial reasons.

Ridiculous? Yes. Irrational? Yes. But understandable? Absolutely. There’s no grudge like a footy fan’s grudge, and if the game is built on rivalries, why should it just be the players who have all the fun?

Unlike the pumped-up players who get to line up a bloke they don’t like, we’re forced to stew in the stands as some smug pretty boy goes over for a double against our team.

So as part of a community service today here at the Roar we’re going to give you the opportunity to clear your conscience. To vent. If you’ve got an irrational hatred of any particular player, please take the time to write down your feelings, get it off your chest.

You’ll feel better for doing it, and all are welcome to contribute.

That is except you, Matt Hilder from the Newcastle Knights. I don’t care for you very much at all.

Follow Chris on Twitter: Vic_Arious@twitter.com

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 since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious

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