The NRL Round 20 teams have been revealed.
Rugby league produces some iconic moments that no one will ever forget – from Johnathan Thurston’s premiership-winning field goal in 2015 to Greg Inglis’ final try that ended the Rabbitohs’ 40-year title drought in 2014.
What often goes unnoticed are the more peculiar statistics and stories that give rugby league a lot more flavour once you dig beneath the surface. These are the stories ignored or forgotten by the big outlets – stories that seem too strange to be true.
Blake Ferguson has never scored an Origin try
In his nine games representing NSW, Blake Ferguson has never scored a try in a series, which seems odd because his career strike rate at club level is 110 tries in 207 games – a little more than one try every two matches.
At other representative levels he has scored six tries in seven games for Australia, two tries in four appearances as an Indigenous All-Star and two tries in his sole appearance representing NSW Country. He is clearly prolific at all other formats, but so far his first origin try has eluded him.
Benji Marshall was a Dally M runner up while at the Dragons
Most people wouldn’t call Benji Marshall’s tenure at the Dragons to be extraordinarily successful, yet in 2015 he came in second place for the games highest honour.
This bizarre feat can be attributed to a team with not many other strike players taking points off Marshall, a blowout win by Johnathan Thurston and Benji having a genuinely good year that is often underrated.
Johnathan Thurston never won a game against the Tigers in Sydney
During his career Thurston achieved almost every record and title in the game. However, even though he played for two different clubs across 17 seasons, he never beat the Tigers in Sydney.
Now this might seem like not much of an oddity until you consider that this equates to 14 straight losses – almost half a season – against a team that had many low points during Thurston’s career.
It gets even weirder when you find out that in 2017 the Cowboys did beat the Tigers at Campbelltown – but Thurston missed the game due to injury.
There has only ever been one scoreless match in the history of the NRL
Across 110 years and thousands of games there has only ever been one scoreless match in the NRL. That dubious honour goes to the Round 5 game in 1982 between the Newtown Jets and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs.
Even with 20 penalties in the match and some big names – including the Mortimers for the Bulldogs – no one could break the deadlock and both teams walked away with the first ever scoreless draw.
Scientology infiltrated the Dragons in the eighties
Not a statistic but definitely one of the NRL’s strangest stories revolves around a seemingly coordinated effort made by the controversial organisation to infiltrate the Dragons in the 1980s.
Two of St George’s best players at the time – Australian representative player Pat Jarvis and former St George captain Chris Guider – ended up joining the Church of Scientology and Guider even gave up his career at 24 to pursue it full time.
Chris Guider also has the remarkable statistic of being the only player to ever play three grand finals in one day – in 1985 – in which he won the first two but couldn’t complete the hat-trick as St George’s first grade side went down to Canterbury 7-6.