Who makes the NRL all-time cult team?
Who makes the NRL all-time cult team?

Who makes the NRL’s Greatest Cult Team?

Performances on the field are only part of the criteria when trying to select a team of rugby league's greatest cult heroes.

And it's no easy task.

Scroll down for our final line-up - did we get it right? Leave a comment below.



1. Joe Kilroy (Brisbane Broncos)

Aka: Smokin' Joe

NRL Games: 31

Cooler than that beer you dig deep into the Esky for, Smokin' Joe not only sported a Fu Manchu, or rode a Harley-Davidson into home games, but carried a pair of cheerleaders clinging on behind him. Sadly, jailed on drugs charges in his prime.

Honourable mentions: Anthony Xuereb, Phil Sigsworth, Paul Hauff


2. Ian Herron (St George, Balmain, Parramatta)

Aka: Chook

NRL Games: 74

All-white torpedo pants and bizarre goalkicking routine, Chook was a fella for whom everything seemed hard-earned. And we loved him for it. Lost grand finals, won hearts.

Honourable mentions: Lee Oudenryn, Scott Minto, Dave 'Wolfman' Williams


Ian Herron during a St George training session in 1992.
Ian Herron during a St George training session in 1992.

3. Olsen Filipaina (Balmain, Eastern Suburbs, North Sydney)

Aka: The Big O

NRL Games: 103

Working as a garbo and playing with Easts reserves in 1985, Filipaina was picked by New Zealand, switched to No.6 and completely outplayed Wally Lewis to win man of the series. Sadly dogged by racism, Big O was also famed for his oversized thighs.

Honourable mentions: Mick Pobjie, Chris Close, Albert 'The Prince' Fulivai


4. William Kennedy (Balmain)

Aka: Bubba

NRL Games: 61

Arriving at Balmain in 1996, Kennedy led the club's tryscorer list for two years before heading back west where, almost impossibly, his cult status grew even greater while journeying through clubs like Lithgow Workies, Mudgee Dragons and Blayney Bears.

Honourable mentions: Jamal Idris, Steve Mavin, Graeme 'The Penguin' Bradley


5. Justin Ryder (Newcastle)

Aka: Knight Ryder

NRL Games: 27

Overnight favourite of The Footy Show thanks to larrikin interviews, working as a Wyong League Club barman while playing and, from memory, having one leg shorter than the other.

Honourable mentions: Eion Crossan, Marcus Bai, Noa Nadruku


6. Ewan McGrady (Canterbury, Western Suburbs)

Aka: Panda

NRL Games: 64

Few better yarns than this Moree No.6 who, in 1991, tore up a premiership, tried to dodge the Rothmans Medal dinner, eventually arrived via police escort, won it, mumbled a few words of appreciation, then in what seemed like a blink, disappeared to parts unknown.

Honourable mentions: Tulsen Tollett, Mick Neil, Preston Campbell


7. Tommy Raudonikis (Western Suburbs, Newtown)

Aka: Tom Terrific

NRL Games: 239

Yes, Phil Blake had his Tooheys commercial, and Wes Patten that stint on Home And Away, but no No.7 boasts greater cult status than the fella responsible for everything from face slapping and Phantom Biter to Cattledog and contentious hit single Harden Up.

Honourable mentions: Wes Patten, Phil Blake, Darrell Trindall


Tommy Raudonakis is a walk-up start in the cult heroes team. Picture: Boo Bailey
Tommy Raudonakis is a walk-up start in the cult heroes team. Picture: Boo Bailey



8. John Haitrosene Okesene (Auckland Warriors)

Aka: Hitro

NRL Games: 22

When Auckland arrived in the competition in 1995, it was a prop living out of his parents' garage, and with a flowing mullet, who proved more popular than even the likes of Phil Blake and Greg Alexander. Even today, remains one of the club's most beloved figures.

Honourable mentions: Dave Hoskings, Fuifui Moimoi, Kerry 'Buckets' Hemsley


9. Mark Riddell (St George Illawarra, Parramatta, Roosters)

Aka: Piggy

NRL Games: 188

What isn't to love about a nuggety No.9 who salutes when kicking goals, carries a fake birth certificate, plus a couple of kilos, is good for interviews, better in shouts and even jumped the fence to applaud his own try.

Honourable mentions: Mario Fenech, Royce Simmons, Greg Conescu


10. Mark Tookey (South Queensland Crushers, Parramatta, Warriors)

Aka: Tooks

NRL Games: 125

Won hearts from the start, when as a rookie he bought all his own training gear from the Crushers merchandise store. A big man when few were left, his switch to the Eels saw Parramatta Stadium echo with Toooooks whenever he carried the ball.

Honourable mentions: Geoff Robinson, Artie Beetson, Grant 'Squasher' Wooden


11. Terry Regan (Balmain, Eastern Suburbs, Canberra)

Aka: Rego

NRL Games: 82

Inspiration behind Reg Reagan thanks to a career that included biting Wally Lewis, taking a cattle dog to judiciary, drinking Green Ginger Wine before games and almost severing the tongue of Dean Lance.

Honourable mentions: John Elias, Mark Geyer, Shaun Fensom



Willie Mason laughs it up.
Willie Mason laughs it up.


12. Willie Mason (Canterbury, Roosters, North Queensland, Newcastle, Manly)

Aka: Big Willie

NRL Games: 290

Think Willie wigs, drinking fines, Clive Churchill Medal, NFL trial, Coffs Harbour saga, a hard right to Stuart Fielden, drugs positive, Origin and Kangaroo wins … and all before leaving Canterbury for another six clubs across three countries.

Honourable mentions: Paul Vautin, Lance Thompson, Noel 'Crusher' Cleal


13. Ronnie Gibbs (Easts, Manly, Gold Coast, Western Suburbs)

Aka: Rambo

NRL Games: 147

Dubbed Rambo, Gibbs played accordingly. Likely took more lives, too. Boasting a tackle style lifted straight from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, the Brewarrina boy caused so much carnage he even got sent off in his farewell Manly game.

Honourable mentions: Alan Tongue, Dean Lance, Billy Peden




14. George Rose

Aka: Gorgeous George

Clubs:Roosters, Manly, Melbourne, St George Illawarra

NRL games: 154

Rugby league's last great big man, Gorgeous George was the 120kg knockabout who not only survived against all odds, but went and won himself a premiership ring in a code that had become increasingly besotted with Adonis athletes.

Honourable mentions: Steve Roach, Sam Backo, Stan Jurd


15. Ted Ellery

Aka: TV Ted

Clubs: Lithgow, Portland, Cootamundra, Nambucca Heads, Nyngan, Brisbane Brothers, Kone Tigers (PNG)

NRL Games: 0

OK, so we're breaking rules to include a 1974 Western Division backrower. But in TV Ted, you have a balding Lithgow coalminer who earned overnight stardom as his bushies earned the code's greatest upset, winning the Amco Cup.

Honourable mentions: Phil Duke, Chicka Ferguson, Ricky Walford


16. Zbignew Niszczot

Aka: Ziggy

Club: South Sydney

NRL Games: 114

When it comes to Winfield Cup names that live on, it's hard to beat this Bunnies winger whose surname was a regular on radio spelling competitions. Better, the Maitland product had a single released in his honour, Ziggy Niszczot Never Played Guitar.

Honourable mentions: Rex Turp, Bronko Djura, Steele Retchless


Good luck bringing down Ziggy Niszczot - and that moustache.
Good luck bringing down Ziggy Niszczot - and that moustache.



17. The Spaghetti Twins

Aka: Dean Schifilliti & Neil Piccinelli

Clubs: Illawarra, Souths, North Queensland, Adelaide, Parramatta, Hunter Mariners, Newcastle

NRL Games: 372

Debuting for the Illawarra Steelers in 1989, these workaholic forwards of Italian heritage were quickly dubbed the Spaghetti Twins because, well, people weren't so easily offended back then. Both could play, too.

Honourable mentions: Canberra Super Macs, Penrith Hair Bears, Brothers MacDougall


Coach - Phil Economidis (Gold Coast Chargers)

Aka: Bernie

NRL Games: 70

Wikipedia isn't wrong when it says this man's moustache starred in the 1990s. Apart from making the ARL finals, Bernie also coined witticisms in tough times like "we're riding the crest of a slump'' and "these kids are so young they still shower in their underpants''.

Honourable mentions: Ronnie Palmer (trainer), Laurie Nichols (motivator), Captain Charger (mascot), Barry Gomersall (referee)




Originally published as Who makes the NRL's Greatest Cult Team?

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