Matty spills on hate-filled footy feud
It was one of the best shows in rugby league during the 1990s - the bitter feud between Paul 'The Chief' Harragon and Mark 'Spud' Carroll.
They were teammates at Origin level, but the pair hated each other intensely and Matty Johns was there for some of the most memorable chapters in their on field rivalry.
"For the majority of the years of their feud Chief and Spud were in very different head spaces," Johns, Harragon's former teammate, told The Matty Johns Podcast.
"Spud was about getting in first and being the aggressor, but Chief was in a different point in his career.
"Pre-1992 Chief was a wild dog and he was doing as much damage to his own teammates and the opposition because he would run in so crazily.
"In a pivotal moment in Chief's career and life in 1992, Australia played Great Britain who had this young front-rower called Ian Lucas who was the Paul Harragon of Wigan.
"Ian Lucas took the ball up off a tap and Chief hit him with everything and knocked Lucas out really badly.
"Lucas was knocked out for about 15 minutes and he never played again and it scared Chief."
Ironically, this incident preceded Harragon's rivalry with Carroll, but Johns believes their feud could have been even more explosive had Chief not been scarred from the Lucas tackle.
"After the Lucas incident I would see these other young front-rowers go up against Chief and I always got the feeling that Chief held a little bit back," Johns said.
"Often times with those Chief and Spud fights in and around 1995 you see Chief grab Spud and pull him in, but not throw a punch.
"He'd grab Spud and pull him in and I reckon it was a decision he made that he wasn't going to do that sort of damage again."
It's hard to believe Harragon held back on the field given some of the fireworks between the pair throughout their careers.
However, it was one of the worst kept secrets in rugby league the pair didn't like each other and Johns remembers the year he learned the full magnitude of their hate.
"I didn't realise how bad it was and I would say it got to the point in the mid-90s where it was hate between Chief and Spud," Johns said.
"They roomed together in the 1995 Origin series and they just never spoke at all.
"Spud would say he would wake up in the middle of the night with his fists clenched because he was dreaming about Chief."
It didn't get better on Australia tours either.
Although Johns and his brother Andrew got along with Spud, Harragon did not appreciate them joking around with his enemy.
Johns says Carroll is an 'affable bloke' and a terrific character, but Chief could not see it.
"I remember sitting on the bus one day after we played South Africa and Chief had played with a broken cheekbone and his tour was basically finished," he said.
"He was sitting about three seats behind me and I was sitting and joking around with Spud.
"I turned around and Chief was just staring a hole in me.
"At that point I realised how deep it went.
"He took it really personal that I was sitting and joking with Spud."
A few years later at the height of the Newcastle v Manly rivalry, the 1997 ARL Grand Final, Harragon finally unleashed.
And the rest is history.
"We were all getting ready and Malcolm Reilly addressed the team and then left the room," Johns said.
"Chief said: 'Everybody get in. Nobody gets sent off in a grand final so just follow me today'.
"He went out there and the mad dog, the young bull returned and he just went crazy.
"That 1997 Grand Final he allowed himself to go back to his old ways and one of the reasons we won it was because of the physical punishment that the Manly forwards took at the hands of Chief."