Bulldogs recruit’s urgent technique overhaul
As a kid, Jack Hetherington loved watching Ogre run amok.
On the field.
With his fists.
Same story with Big Willie.
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"I'd get on YouTube and watch clips of those three for hours," Hetherington says, referencing 2004 Canterbury premiership trio Mark O'Meley, Willie Mason and Sonny Bill Williams.
"It was unreal.
"All I did was watch them putting on big hits or fight."
But as for his favourite?
"Had to be Ogre," he continues of the old Bulldogs enforcer.
"There was an Origin game where he fought Queenslander Michael Crocker - great blue.
"I loved watching that one."
Same deal when Willie Mason, playing for Australia, kayoed Englishman Stuart Fielden.
Or when Williams wheeled out those shoulder charges deadly enough to eventually be outlawed altogether.
Which today, is wonderfully apt.
Once a fan of Canterbury enforcers, Hetherington is now set to become one.
Hand-picked by new Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett, the 24-year-old has been identified as a player capable of inking his own name to a list of Bulldogs toughs including not only Ogre, Big Willie and SBW, but also men like David Gillespie, Kevin Ryan, Peter Kelly and Geoff Robinson.
Despite boasting just 23 NRL appearances, Hetherington is quickly becoming not only a fan favourite, but also 'must watch' TV thanks to his willingness to take on some of rugby league's most feared names.
In Round 12 this year, for example, the Warriors loan prop was suspended for a month following his high shot on Manly Sea Eagle Marty Taupau.
A fortnight earlier, the grandson of Eastern Suburbs legend Bill Mullins was also involved in a heated exchange with Roosters firebrand Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, after which the hulking New Zealander refused to shake hands.
"But that was made out to be bigger than it was," Hetherington insisted of the showdown.
"And I've got nothing against Jared at all.
"Personally, what happens on the field stays there."
But as for JWH refusing to shake your hand?
"Maybe he had the s****s that day," the former Penrith forward continued. "I know we were both talking smack on the field so I wasn't really surprised by it.
"But as I said, there's no animosity from me.
"I actually look up to Jared.
"As a player, he's a beast.
"And if I can go on to achieve even half of what he has, I'll be happy."
Importantly, Hetherington understands any future success means improving a tackling style that, more than once, has seen him go before the NRL judiciary.
As result, the new Bulldogs recruit is working closely on his defensive technique with Bulldogs assistant coach David Furner.
"When I get fatigued, I struggle to bend my back," Hetherington explained.
"I become a bit 'armsy' when I tackle.
"Like the hit against Marty Taupau that got me suspended.
"Or against the Roosters last year, when I got James Tedesco a bit high.
"So I just need to get that right. Bend my body a little more".
But as for fearing his reputation could be starting to count against him within the NRL refereeing ranks?
"Not at all," he insisted.
"I only worry about what I control, which is what I do on the field.
"And I'm going out there to be a good footy player. To be somebody that people want to play alongside.
"So I'll definitely have everything right.
"I just need to be fit and I know come the season opener I'll be extremely fit. Everything is going to be tip top."
Originally published as Bulldogs recruit's urgent technique overhaul