NRL star reveals how he was sacked for tackling team mascot

By Dan Elsom

Former Roosters star Bryan Fletcher. Photo / Getty
Former Roosters star Bryan Fletcher. Photo / Getty

Ah, Rugby League. May you forever maintain your status as the breeding ground for the weird and wonderful sports stories of Australia.

The latest tale from the nation's most chaotic football code comes to us via flashback from former Origin and Test star Bryan Fletcher.

Speaking with Triple M's The Grill Team on Wednesday morning, the 13-Test veteran was discussing his early days playing for the Sydney Roosters and told of the incident that saw his NRL career very nearly go up in smoke.

In 1996, before Fletch had made his NRL debut, the bustling second rower found himself in a costly drunken collision with the club's mascot, Rocky the Rooster.

"I was 21, I was playing second grade," Fletcher said.

"So that year, this was Gus's (coach Phil Gould) first year at the chooks, the first grade side made the semi-finals for the first time and I was playing second grade.

"So in those days you played at one o'clock. By the time everyone had got back to the club at five o'clock for the presentation for first grade, I'd had a few (drinks) - it was at the stadium and this was before RSA and you had full strength beer, so I'd had say a dozen, and some rum and coke.

"What had happened was, they (first grade players) were getting presented on stage and it was quite a big fanfare, and at that time of the year it was all about WWF - the wrestling.

"What I decided to do was give Rocky the Rooster, the mascot, a big flying elbow from the top of the turnstile.

"I ran through the crowd, there was probably 1000 people in there, and I got caught on video actually. I was running through and I jumped on the table and just levelled the mascot.

"He had no idea, so he fell off the stage and was hurt quite badly."

As is the case with any off-field misdemeanour, Fletcher then had to face the club's disciplinary officials. Expecting a slap on the wrists, the punishment was far more severe.

"I then had to face the powers that be, and Arthur Beetson, the great Arthur Beetson, was there watching the video. He laughed and laughed for about an hour. But Bernie Gurr the CEO obviously didn't think it was that funny, so I got sacked," he said.

Not surprisingly, the story behind how the NSW Origin forward managed to get himself re-instated at the club is just as ludicrous.

"I got sacked and I met Gus (coach Phil Gould) - in the off-season I was up having a few beers up at Archie's in Bondi Junction, which was a notorious nightclub, and Gus was in there," Fletcher said.

"We ran into each other on the dance floor. I ran into him and we had a beer and he said, 'Why aren't you at training?' And I said, 'Because I got sacked.'

"And he basically said, 'Well, get to training after Christmas.' So I came back and no one said a word after that, he just dealt with it."

Fletcher then went on to play 135 NRL games for the Roosters, while also representing Australia and NSW on 13 and 14 different occasions respectively.

The Sydney local also played 45 games for South Sydney Rabbitohs and made 55 appearances for Wigan Warriors in the UK's Super League before retiring in 2007.

- news.com.au

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