Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Kiwis v Kangaroos: Five times Anzac tests got really physical

Kiwi David Kidwell shouts after knocking Australian Willie Mason to the ground with a shoulder charge in 2006. Photo / NZPA
Kiwi David Kidwell shouts after knocking Australian Willie Mason to the ground with a shoulder charge in 2006. Photo / NZPA

The Kiwis and Kangaroos have headed west, to play a test in Perth for the first time on Saturday night. There was a time when league was the wild west, full of characters who took pride in getting their retaliation in first.

The game had to clean up but some would argue that representative football has gone too far in the orderly direction.

Sparks certainly flew a decade ago, when current Kiwi coach David Kidwell smashed Big Bad Willie Mason with a shoulder charge at Mt Smart Stadium. That dramatic moment is part of our Infamous Five list of Kiwis-Kangaroos confrontations.

1980

Australia easily won the test at Carlaw Park, by 27-6. But tough Canterbury prop Mark Broadhurst - a good boxer - decked his opposite Craig Young, the famed Dragons hardman, with one punch. Some Aussies have described Broadhurst as a New Zealand boxing champion, but in reality he had four amateur bouts, winning them all by knockout.

When a boxing tournament and Canterbury club final clashed, Broadhurst took the football route. And the rest is history, as Craig Young would know.

1985

The most famous stoush of them all. Kevin Tamati and Greg Dowling let fly with their fists off the field, as they made their way to the sin bin at Lang Park in Brisbane. Decades later, Kiwi prop Tamati alleged to TV3 that Dowling had racially abused him.

"There was derogatory remarks about my colour, verbal abuse, racial abuse about who I was and my ancestry," Tamati claimed. He was also upset that the infamous fight had overshadowed a closely fought series.

1988

The Kiwis allegedly put in so much filth during their disappointing World Cup final performance at Eden Park that the New Zealand Rugby League turned the blowtorch on their own players, with the little halves Clayton Friend and Gary Freeman in the gun. The Kiwis were torn apart by a little fella making his debut, by the name of Allan Langer.

2006

A strange border dispute. Karmichael Hunt knew what was coming, after the Auckland-born back turned down the Kiwis and pulled on the green and gold instead.

Hunt had lived in Australia since he was 11, which didn't seem to wash with big Kiwi forward Frank "The Tank" Pritchard, a Sydney native with Samoan parents.

"Just wait for the Test - he'll wish he played for us," said Pritchard, who duly knocked Hunt out with a controversial tackle in the match at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.

2006

Auckland-born Willie Mason talked trash during a pre-match haka standoff, claiming later that he was mocking the Kiwis' Australian fullback Brent Webb.

"It was a bit funny watching an Aboriginal do the haka towards us," he explained. Kidwell smashed Mason with a shoulder charge during the game, taunting Mason as he lay on the ground. The Aussies later accused Kidwell of avoiding the tough stuff in matches.

Kiwis coach Brian McClennan labelled Mason a "joke" pointing out that Webb is a Torres Strait Islander. "He got that one wrong as well," McClennan retorted.

- NZ Herald

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