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Kevin Hardwick's old school mullet voted best of all time

The mullet is making a mini resurgence but could the current crop of NRL players sporting this infamous hairstyle compete with the original exponents of this polarising trend?

Titans forward Jai Arrow, along with the likes of Sharks trio Josh Dugan, Chad Townsend and Andrew Fifita, have brought back the mullet in 2020, but when put it to the fans it was Balmain icon Kevin Hardwick who walked away with the coveted prize of best mullet of all time.

Hardwick reckoned he could never understand the hype around his mullet but with his flowing locks and fearless approach to his footy he was loved by the Leichhardt faithful and he set the standard by which all future mullets would be measured.

After putting out a 10-man shortlist, the race for the title came down to Hardwick and Mahe Fonua, who started out with a conservative 'do' at the Melbourne Storm but certainly let it all hang out in 2018-19 at Wests Tigers.

The two men from Tigertown fought out a great battle and when the almost 60,000 votes via this article and polls on the official NRL Instagram and Facebook accounts had been tallied it was Hardwick who was judged to have Simply the Best mullet. recently launched the search for the Simply The Best players from 1990 to now to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the iconic Tina Turner promotional campaign, which was again featured in this year's advertisement for the Telstra Premiership, and is calling on the fans to have their say on a range of topics on the modern era.

Such was the strength of the options in the "business at the front, party at the back" genre, there was no room in the shortlist for the early Laurie Daley and Brad Fittler spiked versions, the curly Cliff Lyons style, Gary Freeman's choice effort from his Balmain days in the 1980s or the likes of Terry Matterson, who hung onto their flowing locks at the back even when they were thinning on top.

Best mullet of all time

(in alphabetical order)

Jai Arrow

The modern-day master of the mullet, Arrow’s look is uniquely his … and that’s probably the way every other player in the NRL likes it.

Titans forward Jai Arrow.
Titans forward Jai Arrow. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

As Fox Sports commentator Andrew Voss joked earlier this year: "I reckon the haircut costs him State of Origin. I don't know how you could pick a guy with that hairdo. That is some look for Jai Arrow, Halloween comes up at the end of October I thought."

Tim Brasher

A schoolboy sensation when he burst onto the scene at Balmain in 1989, he found himself playing in one of the greatest grand finals in just his 20th game of first grade.

Tigertown was home to some legendary mullets during the 80s and Brasher happily carried on the tradition after blokes like Kevin Hardwick and Kerry Hemsley retired.

When Brasher got going and the locks got flowing the Leichhardt faithful loved it.

Sadly, by the time he retired a decade later, Brasher had gone to the other extreme with a chrome dome.

Tim Brasher on the run for Balmain against Brisbane in 1990.
Tim Brasher on the run for Balmain against Brisbane in 1990. ©NRL Photos

Les Davidson

The mullet and moustache combination which Davidson rocked during his early days at South Sydney may have had its detractors but nobody would have had the courage then - or now for that matter - to tell the fearsome forward otherwise.

While big "Bundy" lost the mo after a few years, he kept the locks flowing throughout his lengthy career at the Rabbitohs and Sharks.

Rabbitohs forward Les Davidson.
Rabbitohs forward Les Davidson. ©NRL Photos

Andrew Ettingshausen

The great "ET" could easily have made it in modelling if a decorated 327-game footy career hadn’t dominated his life from the age of 17.

The perfect choice to star alongside Tina Turner in the legendary "Simply the Best" ad in 1990, Ettingshausen also graced the pages of several Men of League calendars.

Hall of Famer Andrew Ettingshausen in action for NSW.
Hall of Famer Andrew Ettingshausen in action for NSW. ©NRL Photos

Remarkably he retained his movie star looks throughout that long career at Cronulla and rarely was a hair out of place as he raced away for one of his 166 tries.

Mahe Fonua

Was there any better sight in 2019 than "Mahe the Mullet" flying down the flank for the Tigers?

Wests Tigers fan favourite Mahe Fonua in 2019.
Wests Tigers fan favourite Mahe Fonua in 2019. ©NRL Photos

One of the game’s great characters, Fonua didn’t give a rat’s tail about what rival fans or players thought about his ‘do – a bizarre mix of a buzz cut and the mullet.

Darren Fritz

It was real and it was spectacular. 

Over a career that spanned stints at the Raiders, Steelers and Magpies, he is probably best remembered for bolting into Queensland's State of Origin side in 1994.

Former Magpies prop Darren Fritz.
Former Magpies prop Darren Fritz. ©NRL Photos

But those who saw his manicured mane in full flight, still marvel at the work that went into mixing business at the front and party at the back while engaging in the rough and tumble life of a front-rower.

Kevin Hardwick

The Tigers hardman - a dead ringer for the Paddle Pop Lion - played 145 games in a nine-year career at Balmain which saw him become a cult figure for his mullet, his mongrel and the mayhem he could cause defenders when he charged into the line.

In 2016, when asked by Fox Sports to rate the game’s best mullets Hardwick was typically direct: "To me, back in the day, I had long hair because I wanted long hair. I can’t believe how much hype is around the mullet."

But when you had a ‘do as dashing as this one, you can understand the hype.

Balmain stalwart Kevin Hardwick.
Balmain stalwart Kevin Hardwick. ©NRL Photos

Des Hasler

After 399 games as an NRL coach it’s a wonder Dessie has any hair left at all but the wind swept look is still serving the Manly mentor well.

Perhaps former Sea Eagles forward Luke Williamson summed it up best in his 2007 grand final week diary in the SMH when he said: "In his day, Dessie had a wonderful head of hair. I've seen photos from his playing days and she had a bit of length on her, the old mullet. It was a superb piece of work and, in recent times, I've modelled my own bouffant on his."

Des Hasler during his Manly playing days.
Des Hasler during his Manly playing days. ©NRL Photos

Tawera Nikau

When it came to the spiky mullet, there was no better example in the 1990s than Kiwi hardman Tawera Nikau.

The former Sharks and Melbourne lock favoured the menacing look to match his on-field demeanour, helping Cronulla to the Super League grand final of 1997 and the Storm to their first premiership win two years later.

Tawera Nikau moves in to tackle Kevin Walters in 1997.
Tawera Nikau moves in to tackle Kevin Walters in 1997. ©NRL Photos

Ian Schubert

In a golden era of golden locks out Bondi Junction way, Schubert more than held his own alongside the likes of Russell Fairfax and Mark Harris, who was famously banned from Easts Leagues Club in 1973 because his hair was over his collar.

Roosters great Ian Schubert.
Roosters great Ian Schubert. ©NRL Photos

After going to school at Wauchope High School, Schubert headed to Sydney to join the team that Jack Gibson built and quickly made a name for himself for the quality of his play and his cascading locks.

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