Classic Clashes - Chief v Spud

Is there a more brutal rugby league rivalry than the war between Paul ‘Chief’ Harragon and Mark ‘Spud’ Carroll in the 1990s? You’d be hard pressed to find one.

Whether it was slamming bodies from the duelling big men, a ferocious shoulder charge or good old-fashioned brouhaha, there’s no doubt when they came together, there was always fireworks on the field.

It was in 1995 that the pair had one of the all-time greatest clashes in rugby league history. In front of a packed-out home crowd in Newcastle, the two gladiators went head to head throughout the match.

In one fierce moment, Chief took Spud head on in a gruelling hit which left him unconscious on the turf.

Their hatred on the field also reached its peak when the two went head to head in the unforgettable 1997 grand final.

“When you have a great rivalry with someone, it brings out the best in you,” explained Harragon.

“Some of the most intense moments I’ve had on the football field were against Manly and in particular Mark Carroll.

“He was a great competitor, a fierce competitor, and like everyone from Manly and Newcastle, we hated each other.

“That rivalry went on from the first time we played in 1988 in the first trial match of the Herald Challenge Cup, because they won the grand final the year before and they thought they had just come up for a trial but the boys just rattled them.”

But it wasn’t all hate and rivalry, as the pair ultimately forged a great friendship, forced to bunk with each other on representative duties.

“Back in 1995 I had to room with Spud in Origin and I didn’t want to, but they demanded we had to,” laughed Harragon.

“So I slept with the enemy… I knew a lot about Spud and his rituals and that seemed bizarre.

“It was a weird time working together, we did our best and then next time we played we’d rip each other’s head off.”

The two greats will reunite this Friday to watch their former sides battle it out.

“We’re watching the game together on Friday night with Matty Johns in between us,” said Harragon.

“Spud and I will be having a laugh and watching the boys go round so I’ve got high expectations our boys are going to do us proud and keep that tradition going.”