#Top10Tuesday: Awkward reunions
With the NRL draw for the 2015 season drawing ever closer to completion, NRL.com put their heads together to look at some of the more awkward reunions set to occur over the course of the 2015 season.
10. Brad Takairangi and Jason Taylor
The Wests Tigers had Brad Takairangi signed, sealed and delivered. After beating out Takairangi's old club the Titans and others such as the Storm for his services, the Tigers had reportedly signed Takairangi to a three-year deal. That was until Mick Potter was sacked and Jason Taylor was appointed the club's new coach. While a player is usually the one to pull out of a deal, the Wests Tigers instead backflipped once Taylor signed on the dotted line – leaving Takairangi temporarily without a contract before signing to play with Parramatta. It isn't like Taylor and Takairangi are complete strangers either; both men were at the Roosters in 2012 before the utility left to play for the Titans.
9. Josh Hoffman and Darius Boyd
Josh Hoffman debuted for the Broncos in 2008 – the final year of Darius Boyd's first run with the Brisbane club. By 2010, Hoffman was first-choice fullback for Brisbane and held the position up until two years ago. Yet with the likes of teammate Justin Hodges arguing Hoffman wasn't right for fullback in recent times, the New Zealand international has moved on to the Titans for the 2015 season. Returning coach Wayne Bennett signed off on the departure of Hoffman and Ben Barba, freeing up enough money for the club to bring Darius Boyd back to the club. It was surely a kick in the teeth for Hoffman, who succeeded Boyd as Broncos fullback when Boyd followed Bennett to the Dragons.
8. Ben Barba and Des Hasler
After initially leaving the Bulldogs at the end of 2013, citing homesickness as the reason for his departure, Barba returns to Sydney after only one season in Brisbane. With Wayne Bennett refusing to guarantee Barba a spot in the Broncos side in 2015, the 25-year-old has instead been earmarked to play five-eighth at the Sharks. One must be thinking though how peeved Des Hasler could be after struggling to find a replacement for Barba since his departure from the Bulldogs. With Sam Perrett and Brett Morris currently battling for the 'Dogs' fullback spot – they are both better wingers – such a dilemma wouldn't have existed if Barba had stayed under Hasler's watchful eye.
7. Paul Gallen and Queensland
Eight long years of defeat, misery and despair were finally extinguished in 2014 when the Paul Gallen-led New South Wales Blues claimed their first Origin Series win since 2005. While it may initially be uncomfortable when the Blues step out onto ANZ Stadium on May 27, Gallen and his Maroon opponents are sure to expel any awkwardness with plenty of barnstorming runs and bone-crushing tackles.
6. James Graham and Dave Tyrrell
Dave Tyrrell played in every single game for the Rabbitohs this year. While it ended in premiership glory, it also ended with Tyrrell on a stretcher looking up at the roof of ANZ Stadium with a heavy concussion. The sickening head-clash between Bulldogs prop James Graham and the Rabbitohs book-end ended Tyrrell's Grand Final although he did recovery sufficiently to partake in the drought-breaking premiership celebrations. While Tyrrell is a cruiserweight compared to Graham's heavyweight status, the Rabbitohs' resident Superman fan won't be taking a backwards step when the 2014 Grand Final rematch comes around.
5. Michael Maguire and Des Hasler
The victor and the defeated coach of the 2014 NRL Grand Final will surely have a few awkward exchanges over the course of 2015. In what was a David v Goliath battle, with Hasler involved in his eighth Grand Final across his playing and coaching career, it was Maguire who came out on top in only his second season of coaching in the NRL. The Rabbitohs' win on the biggest stage of all is sure to add a bit of fuel to the fire between the two in future fixtures.
4. Glenn Stewart and Geoff Toovey
While the Sea Eagles' dilemmas at the board level have been resolved, the departure of club legend Glenn Stewart has left plenty in and around Brookvale with a sour taste in their mouth. At the height of the board's grievances and ownership issues, Toovey and the Sea Eagles failed to offer Stewart any sort of contract after 12 years and two premierships with the club, citing salary cap restrictions. With the 30-year-old lock signing with the Rabbitohs for the next two seasons, Toovey and Stewart won't have to wait long until they come face to face once again.
3. North Queensland Cowboys and the NRL Finals
For the past three seasons North Queensland have exited finals football in controversial circumstances. In 2012 it was a missed Kieran Foran knock-on; in 2013 a refereeing blunder allowed a seven-tackle set to go ahead which led to Beau Ryan scoring; while 2014 saw a controversial knock-on call go against Cowboys halfback Robert Lui in the lead-up to what would have been Johnathan Thurston's 'match-winning' try. With the Cowboys at good odds to make it four finals berths in a row, you could excuse them for entering the 2015 playoffs with a jaded mindset knowing what has preceded them in their previous three cracks at premiership glory. Hold your breath in September!
2. James Tedesco and Ricky Stuart
Blame it on the cold weather. Blame it on the location. Blame it on Questacon or Tony Abbott for all we care, the fact of the matter is Canberra coach Ricky Stuart couldn't land any of the big names he chased hard for last season. Melbourne back-rower Kevin Proctor re-signed with the Storm at the 11th hour while Penrith winger Josh Mansour just didn't want to go. Neither of these men had a bigger impact on the Raiders' recruitment drive than James Tedesco though. Tedesco, seen as an apt replacement for the departed Anthony Milford, agreed to a two-year deal in May but just eight days later the 21-year-old reneged on his Canberra deal and later re-signed with the Tigers. Now Stuart is left with few genuine fullback options while shaking his fist at what could have been.
1. Anthony Watmough and Daly Cherry-Evans
If the rumour mill is to be believed there is no love lost between the former Sea Eagles teammates, despite their signficant contributions to Manly's success over the past four seasons. Watmough has since departed the club for what he hopes will be greener pastures at the Parramatta Eels, but this doesn't necessarily mean it won't be the end of the Cherry-Evans/Watmough charade. Having previously played against one another at Origin level, their rivalry is set to take centre stage when the Eels and Sea Eagles clash in 2015. Perhaps then they will express their true feelings for one another.