It was once worn with a badge of honour, but now the NRL’s big men are getting offended when accused of pulling off a shoulder charge.
At least that’s how Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa felt when Canterbury skipper James Graham cried foul after a heavy collision between the pair in Friday’s semi-final.
The Roosters’ firebrand responded with some choice words for the Bulldogs captain, setting the tone for the Chooks ahead of this Friday night’s preliminary final against the Broncos in Brisbane.
“James did accuse him of putting on a shoulder charge, and it pissed him off,” teammate Sam Moa told AAP.
“On top of that, it was a semi-final game and with 30-odd thousand in the crowd, it got his red hair redder.”
The 22-year-old Napa has some history with the no-arms hit, most famously when he missed the club’s first two finals matches last year for a shoulder charge on South Sydney’s John Sutton in the last game of the regular season.
Moa said the Queenslander had worked hard over the season to rectify his tackling technique, so took exception when Graham complained to the referee about the legality of Napa’s shot.
And that was when he fronted up to the Englishman, ordering him a number of times to watch the replay on the big screens.
“It was more frustration on his behalf, because he’s really been trying to get it out of his game,” Moa said.
“So when he knows he didn’t do one, and someone accused him, it obviously pissed him off. That’s what hurt him most.”
Napa, who was 18th man for Queensland earlier this year during State of Origin, has been in stellar form since being elevated into the starting side following a season-ending knee injury to pack leader Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
The Cook Islands international has cracked the 100m mark in each of his past six matches.
And after taking it to the Bulldogs last week, he will be expected to again bring the fire against another one of Waerea-Hargreaves’ rivals in Broncos forward Sam Thaiday.
“I’m hoping Dylan brings a bit of that. I know he will,” Moa said.
“Sam’s a terrific player and he’s proven at the highest level of the game. We’re not expecting anything less from Sam Thaiday or any of the Broncos.”