TALKING RL: Why a small part of me is sad to see the Wrecking Ball depart

Frank-Paul Nuuausala has gone. The question now is what should Wigan do with the money that has become available under the salary cap?
Frank-Paul Nuuausala wasn't great on the pitch... but he had a great nickname!Frank-Paul Nuuausala wasn't great on the pitch... but he had a great nickname!
Frank-Paul Nuuausala wasn't great on the pitch... but he had a great nickname!

“Give Bateman whatever he wants,” one fan suggested. “Hell, buy his daughter a pony or something. Anything to stop him going.”

It’s not a bad idea.

Not buying her a pony, you understand, but for Wigan to give themselves some wriggle-room under the wage ceiling to try to retain their best off-contract players.

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Sure, some will want the club to bring in fresh blood immediately, but three games into the season is not the best time to recruit, when everyone is under contract.

Besides, it seems sensible to keep a bit of free cash in case a player becomes available during this campaign – and now Castleford have admitted they have terminated Zak Hardaker’s contract, the rumours linking them with him have only intensified, even without knowing what ban, if any, he will receive (I checked with UK Anti-Doping yesterday; their policy is to not reveal the dates of hearings until they have taken place).

As for Frank, his departure is one of those cases of ‘best for both parties’.

He wasn’t settled, he wasn’t happy, and he wasn’t playing well. I’ve mentioned before that the fact he figured in every game last year illustrates Shaun Wane’s limitations at prop last season because of injuries in that department.

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Even without Frank, Wane shouldn’t have that problem now, and I’d love to see Romain Navarrete – who has caught my eye in the friendly games – get, and take, his chance.

There is one obvious drawback to Nuuausala’s departure - it has robbed Super League of one of its coolest nicknames!

Sure, he didn’t live up to the tag as The Wrecking Ball, but I never got tired of writing it.

Now, younger people – say, those who don’t remember phones without built-in cameras – may wonder what the fuss is about.

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But I grew up with players called ‘Cement’, ‘Pearl’ and ‘Blocker’. ‘Chariots’, ‘Mad Dog’ and ‘Volcano’.

And there were some colourful ones, too. ‘Lager’ and ‘Diesel’ and ‘Baloo’ and ‘Ogre’.

Now? Not so much.

We have players called ‘Lockers’ and ‘Marshy’ and ‘Gilly’ and other bland names.

And now we’ve lost ‘The Wrecking Ball’ – weeks after ‘Coaltrain’ left the English league – who have we got left?

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Leeds fans call Ryan Hall WBW, but that sounds like a second-rate American wrestling competition.

Manu Vatuvei is The Beast – which is great. But he’s injured for the year.

So who’s left? Justin Carney, the ‘Tank on the flank’? Is that it?

We used to call our biggest prop ‘The Brick With Eyes’. Now it’s ‘Big Al’.

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I’m challenging fans, journalists, players, coaches and commentators... let’s get some better nicknames in Super League!

It’ll be tough. Games at Warrington usually are.

And with Wigan given just six days between games on both sides of the world, they could be forgiven for being a little jaded tomorrow night.

I’ve not seen anything from Warrington so far to convince me they’re firing, and if this game was being played next week, I’d make Wigan favourites.

But I can’t help wonder if their travel home will act as a bit of a leveller.