We all have favourite players we love and revere.
These bonds are unbreakable and are forged within single moments that stay with us forever.
It could be a last gasp field goal to win a match, an against the odds chip and charge that sets up a try and opens the floodgates for an historical comeback, an out of nowhere intercept in the last, dying seconds.
The flipside of the coin is that we also have players we downright hate and, likewise, once we form an opinion of these players, we rarely change our minds.
These players are usually identified as ‘grubs’. It’s a pretty general term, but one that’s clearly understood among fans.
The world of the grub is by no means cut and dried. It’s a layered hierarchy with subtle, interwoven intricacies worthy of a David Attenborough doco. Within this world, we can broadly identify three main categories of ‘grub.’
Illegal, physical play type grub
(well known practitioners – Les Boyd, John Hopoate)
Legal but cheap shot play type grub
(well known practitioners – Rod Reddy, Josh McGuire)
Legal, but carries on like a pork chop type grub
(well known practitioners – Michael Hancock, Michael Ennis).
Regardless of which strata the grub inhabits, these guys just really get under our skin and piss us off.
Of course one supporter’s ‘grub’ is another supporter’s champion. That’s why you find yourself sitting on the couch railing at every low act you see Josh McGuire perpetrate and why your friend sitting next to you, and an avid Broncos fan, hails Josh McGuire as a pusher of boundaries who you want next to you in the trenches fighting for your life.
I recall being mortified when in 2002 Justin Hodges joined the Roosters, the team I support. I hated Hodges with a passion and for the next three years I changed.
Slowly but surely I started subtly softening my view on Hodges. It was quite scary. I knew it was happening, but there’s was nothing I could do about it.
He went from being an irascible prick to a cheeky larrikin. I’d see him slip in a quick uppercut in a tackle and rationalise that the guy on the receiving end must have said something about Hodges’ mother and had it coming.
For every grubby act I witnessed, I started giving him the benefit of the doubt, looking the other way, and pretending that I didn’t see what I knew I saw.
As soon as he went back to the Broncos in 2005, I reverted quicker than the wink of a Greg Bird eye.
So what do you do when a player you’ve always considered to be a part of the ‘grub’ club joins your team?
Do you suddenly wipe the slate clean, go into denial, seek counselling, or stick to your opinion and continue to berate them even though they’re now part of your team?