The Big League: Characters and polarising players

Being an Australian sports fan is an interesting dichotomy. We love winning at all levels and gaining superiority over others, especially in team sports. But when it comes to the individual, attitudes often change. You’ll see people gravitate towards the battler, someone who has to overcome adversity and sportspeople with big personalities and ego often inspire only love or hate – nothing in between.

We hate whingers but we love people who spit the truth. Tall poppies need to be cut down immediately but we won’t cop being anything less than No.1.

Honestly, it’s so interesting I could probably write a thesis on it. It happens on a smaller scale in the great game of rugby league than compared to say, following a national team, but the usual storylines of heroes and villains always exist.

And so they should. As fans, we should be encouraging footy players to speak their minds and play to their style, even if it inspires annoyance in us when we’re watching games. If everyone was a robot, things would get boring pretty quickly. 

Personality, alongside talent, is paramount to selling the game to fans young and old.

Maria Tsialis.

I got onto this topic with a few people when discussing this week’s Big League cover star, Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds.

You say his name and people have an opinion. He’s easily one of the most polarising players in the game, mostly because of how he conducts himself on the field. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is known for his occasional brain snap, but for Bulldogs fans, watching him leave the club will be heartbreaking because his drive to win is quite obvious. For opposition fans, watching him badger your players all game quickly gets the blood boiling.

Off the field, he’s one of the easiest players to interview. He never minces his word and speaks openly and honestly, no matter what question is thrown his way – and there have been some hairy ones.

Josh Reynolds is easy to love or hate. When he runs onto Belmore Sports ground for the last time in the blue and white strip this Sunday, he’s going to feel the love of Dogs fans embracing him. But soon enough, when he’s wearing orange and black, he’ll feel their wrath.

Here’s to big personalities!

And another thing… I promised after Game two of the series I wouldn’t be dragged in by Origin emotionally again this season. That was it, my heart had had enough. But surprise! I’m here for it again. This last week of build-up for the series will be so enthralling and by 8pm on Wednesday, I’ll be shaking with nerves like everyone else across the country. Bring it on.

The Round 18 issue of Big League is on sale now at newsagents, supermarkets, at the ground and via www.magsonline.com.au/big-league