One of the most remembered fights in rugby league history came in Great Britain’s last win over Australia.
In 2006, Great Britain and Australia collided down under and the game exploded when Willie Mason and Stuart Fielden came to blows before skipper Jamie Peacock got involved.
No Mason has given his insight into the scrap with another legendary British front row in the shape of James Graham on his podcast The Bye Round:
“It was going to on for years, so 2002 we went at it in the test and then 2003 we went at it but we just never got into a fight.
“I was always hunting for him and he was always running at Danny Buderus and all those kinds of guys, and he was playing 80 minutes and I was just hammering about getting on the gear and stuff like that.
“I hated it, I was just like ‘you juice-head’ and I was always into him and he goes, ‘oh shut up you f***ing convict’, and I was just calling him a cheat.
“He was playing 80 minutes in the middle and we’re all pretty fit but we couldn’t get 80 but he was and taking like 26 hit-ups, 40 tackles and absolutely being a beast. So I was like ‘f*** this dude, I’m going to punch his head off if I get the chance’.
“That was 2002, 2003, 2004 tour same again so I was still hunting for 2005 same again and then 2006 I finally got him.”
Mason then explained how the incident came about:
“It was just a matter of time for both of us. We’re two young bulls, alpha males so before the game talking first hit I said, ‘I’m gonna punch the f*** out of him, it’s gonna be on and I don’t give a s***. Just someone have my back.’
“So yeah bang I hit him and he’s talking and as soon as we go we’re banging and it happened real quick, then Peacock comes in. Then Sean Long comes in and I didn’t know what to do with Longy because do I punch him in the head or just push him, so I went ‘f*** off Longy’ and Peacock comes in.
“What I love about Peacock is that after the game we shook hands and had a beer but Fielden didn’t, he took it real personal and wouldn’t talk to me at all.
“If that it was in todays game I reckon I’d get 10 weeks, especially for the fight and then after that Longy kicked the ball and I put kick pressure on and elbowed him right in the head and split him all across the head.
“Tests back then were great and England were good, in 2003 we got you 3-0 but we could have easily lost 3-0.”
An infamous and scathing piece of commentary also came from the incident with the Australian broadcaster Phil Gould, now top dog at the Canterbury Bulldogs where Mason is a mentor to younger players, pulling no punches on the scrap.
“Stuart Fielden got exactly what he deserved there, if you’re gonna push you’ve got to have your guard up. And if you’re gonna throw it’s no point throwing a half-hearted one.”