Ex-Wigan Warriors star Terry O'Connor lifts the lid on THAT World Club Challenge scrap with Gorden Tallis

A screen-grab of the infamous bust-up
A screen-grab of the infamous bust-up

Think of Wigan and the World Club Challenge, and the memories come rushing back.


From the crowd against Manly to the fireworks against Penrith to the epic scale of their victory in Brisbane and - more recently - Joe Burgess' hat-trick, the club has made history in the competition.

And though their involvement in the expanded Super League series in 1997 is not as widely-remembered (Wigan were knocked out in the quarter-finals by the soon-defunct Hunter Mariners) it did provide a flashpoint which many Warriors fans can still picture vividly.

Terry O’Connor’s scrap with Gorden Tallis was one of the most infamous fights in rugby league history.

The bust-up, which has been viewed thousands of times on YouTube, sparked an all-in brawl and both players were sinbinned.

O’Connor said then-coach Eric Hughes had instructed the forwards to rip into Tallis, who was “embarrassing us.”

“So on my next carry, I ran straight at him and he picked me up and dropped me,” O’Connor told Australian magazine, Rugby League Week.

“I got up, played the ball, and all of sudden he unleashed four of the quickest punches I’ve ever seen! I managed to catch him with one, an absolute belter...

"Every other player rushed in, but the funny thing was, out the corner of my eye I saw our winger – Andy Johnson - running in, and then he obviously saw Wendell Sailor opposite him, and Jonno turned and ran off!

"The fight ended, and we both got sin-binned. I actually said to the ref’, ‘What am I getting sinbinned for, headbutting his fist?!’”

Team-mate Gary Connolly admitted he also avoided the brawl.

"I think my shoe-laces were undone," he said in an interview in 2017. "I'm not sure what Tez was thinking - if there's one person you don't pick on, it's Gordon Tallis!"

O’Connor - who later quipped that his wife hits harder than Tallis - bumped into the former Queensland enforcer in a hotel when Brisbane travelled to the UK to face St Helens in the 2000 World Club Challenge.

"He actually came over to me and was really friendly, and complimented me on my form that season," said O'Connor, now a Sky Sports pundit. "I spoke to him but... I still had that grudge there. And he clearly didn't. To this day, it annoys me that I wasn't the bigger man, like he was.

"I owe him an apology - not for the fight but for the way I was with him when we met in 2000. He's a lovely guy, a champion bloke."