Remembering Adrian Morley

Behind those eyes is a sick rugby league mind. And behind that is a really nice guy. Image credit Daily Telegraph

Behind those eyes is a sick rugby league mind. And behind that is a really nice guy. Image credit Daily Telegraph

Jared Warea-Hargeaves is tough, no doubt. He charges out of the line and hits with venom. He can also take a hit too (paging Simon Dwyer, 2010) yet still manage to pack into a scrum which could somehow twist in favour of the Roosters, leading to a memorable field goal.

He’d probably top the list of people you just wouldn’t want to run at, and is one of the most aggressive, hard-nosed defenders in the comp.

Even then, you can’t really compare him to Adrian Morley.

He still ranks as the greatest cult figure in recent history for the Roosters. Never before or since has one man’s name echoed across the Sydney Football Stadium after a big play. Here, I’m endeavouring to display/explain the biggest plays from his time at Bondi.

Versus Jason King and the Next Guy

Not only could Adrian Morley put a massive hit on someone, he could bounce off, run back to the line and pull off another massive hit. To wit:

In basketball, there’s a weird attribute some ridiculous analysts have called “re-jumpability”. In effect, it means that players can jump up, miss a lay-up (for instance), then land and immediately out-jump the guy competing for the rebound before they’ve even left their feet.

I guess Adrian Morley has great re-bumpability (re-punkability?).

Morley leaves Walker legless

So Adrian toed the line. A lot. But in effect, a line is only a line if you know it’s there, and occasionally you need someone to cross it to remind everyone of the purpose of that line.

Ben Walker found out exactly where that line was. Right here:

I’m sure he got suspended after that hit. But firstly, 1) it was a Rabbitoh, and 2) the fact that this video lives on but the memory of how long Adrian spent on the sidelines doesn’t is evidence that the hit, in the long run, was worth it.

As the old saying goes, without rules, there’s chaos. But without chaos there’d be no need for rules, and where would this world be without rules? We need chaos. Adrian was only happy to provide it.

The gentle art of revenge

Adrian Morley mastered the square-up. We’ll get to the most famous one a little later on, but the following Morley highlight needs some context.

In 2004, the final season God wore the number six jersey, the Roosters squared off against 2002 Grand Final rivals the Warriors. Awen Guttenbeil of the Warriors proceeded to lay the absolute smack down on Ned Catic. Viewers, what you are about to see may disturb you:

Bye bye Ned.

In all fairness, Guttenbeil was roughly a mile offside and Catic had no chance.

Adrian Morley knew this. Adrian Morley waited, letting the anger within fester and bubble. Adrian Morley was helpless to do anything that day for some reason. Adrian Morley was potentially injured, but probably suspended. Or maybe concussed.

But Adrian Morley lives by the same motto as Agent Romanov in The Avengers: he couldn’t help, so there was red on his ledger. Adrian Morley needed to clear it.

Adrian Morley cleared it in 2005:

Adrian Morley don’t fuck around.

Breaking records

This was after he left the Roosters for England, but is worth a look. It really doesn’t need much explanation:

Done after 12 seconds? I’d hate to be his missus.

Best form of defence is attack

When he first arrived at Bondi in 2001, Adrian was a bit of a disappointment. His running game didn’t match the aggression he showed in attack and he was already starting to make appearances at the judiciary.

But by 2002, he had really developed as a ball-runner that was as damaging at that part of his game as he was in defence.

He didn’t have much of an offload and only ran in straight lines like Forrest Gump. But the fruits were there for all to see:

I tried desperately to find a clip of Morley trampling Adam Macdougall (I think). It was circa 2003 and he basically ran over the top of him. I think his knee collided with the Maddog’s chest and it was goodnight winger.

They called the game off while doctors attended to Macdougall. What happened next gave me chills. A chant of “Mooooooor – leeeeeeeeeeey” went up around the SFS for the duration of the time the Maddog was down. It echoed across the stadium, and everyone from the elderly to the pram-bound seemingly joined in.

I have not heard a single chant like that before for an individual, unless the crowd is calling someone a wanker. The closest I can compare it to is what I imagine Liverpool FC fans would feel chanting “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

That’s what Adrian did. He united the people.

Sadly, there’s no record of this that I can find. If anyone has this clip, please link to it in the comments section below, or tweet it to me. Otherwise, the memory will live on only in the minds of everyone who attended that game – and I doubt it will ever fade.

Oh Captain, My Captain

I don’t want to overstate this, but Morley’s hit on Villasanti in the 2002 Grand Final is arguably the single greatest hit in the history of the world.

Brad's blood makes Morley mad. Image credit Sydney Morning Herald

Brad’s blood makes Morley mad. Image credit Sydney Morning Herald

Context: Brad Fittler (or God depending on your religion) had just led the Roosters back to the lead with about a quarter of the game remaining following a 40-20 and a perfect short-ball to Craig Wing for a try.

He then faked a kick down-field but held the ball to potentially run it. Some desperate Warriors prick then knocked Fittler to the ground with a legal hit before Richard Villasanti came over the top and ramrodded head-first into Freddy’s head while he was helpless on the ground, drawing blood and dazing him (right).

(I don’t have footage of this, and I can kinda understand this not being available online. After all, who wants to see footage of God being mugged? He’s God, for God’s sake.)

The Warriors somehow avoided a penalty, and played two tackles off the scrum. Villasanti took the next hit up, and Adrian gave Richard a special dose of medicine for that sickening hit, with a side order of Get Fucked:

Not the biggest hit of his career in terms of pure brutality, but given the moment, the score, the stage and the stakes, nothing beats this hit. From a memory standpoint, most Roosters fans will remember this hit above anything else that happened in their first Grand Final victory in 27 years.

The Roosters were ahead just 12-8 and with the Warriors in the red zone at the time of the hit. They went on to win 30-8. I knew – heck, every Roosters fan knew – that we weren’t losing after that hit.

That hit delivered a Premiership.

I’ll never forget Adrian Morley, one of the true class acts in the game off the field, but a ruthless vindictive hit merchant on it. And they’re the best kind of ruthless vindictive hit merchant.

Gone but not forgotten. Cheers Adrian.


6 responses to “Remembering Adrian Morley

  1. Pingback: Has everyone forgotten how effing good Craig Fitzgibbon actually was? | 26 Rounds·

  2. He was the best (“da best, Jerry, da best”) and I always felt we let him go at least two, possibly three seasons early. Sure, he would have sat out a third of the season but the other two-thirds would have put the fear of God into opposing teams. We tried and failed to replace him with Mason and O’Meley but only JWH has come somewhere near emulating him. A Roosters legend.


    • At the time they couldn’t compete with the English offer — they tried their hardest to keep him back then. I agree, he should have retired a Rooster. All class.


  3. Aaaah right. I thought he was let go because any further suspensions would have meant a long time out. He was probably missing home a bit as well.


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