Ten Controversial Axings


Wayne Bennett has made a statement at the Brisbane Broncos – star halfback Ben Hunt has been dropped for Benji Marshall and will play in reserve grade this weekend.

This is far from the first time that Bennett has made a controversial selection decision and certainly not the only time in recent history that a big-name player has been left out.

We have compiled a list of ten of the most controversial axings in recent sporting memory and there is sure to be plenty of debate about whether the right decision was made.

Ben Hunt

It is fair to say that Ben Hunt has been a touch inconsistent so far this season and he will make room for Benji Marshall after the veteran’s strong effort against the Sydney Roosters last Saturday night.

Does the fact Hunt will move to the St George Illawarra Dragons next season have anything to do with Bennett’s decision?

We will leave you to judge.

Trent Hodkinson

Hunt is not the first big-name half-back to get axed in the NRL this season.

Trent Hodkinson has struggled since he made the move from the Canterbury Bulldogs to the Newcastle Knights, but it still came as a massive surprise when Knights coach Nathan Brown dropped him to reserve grade earlier this season.

Billy Slater

It was the selection decision that tore a State apart and continues to rage.

Billy Slater was controversially overlooked for a place in the Queensland State Of Origin team for the opening game of the 2017 State Of Origin Series, but he looks set to earn a recall after the Maroons were flogged in the opening game of the series.

Simon Katich

Mention the name Simon Katich and a discussion about Michael Clarke’s time as Australian captain quickly follows.

The opening partnership of Shane Watson and Katich was one of the few strengths for Australia during a tough stretch in the late 2000s, but Cricket Australia opted not to renew his contract after he was injured during the 2010/2011 Ashes Series.

The selectors claimed that Katich was past it, but the common consensus is that his sacking had more to do with his notorious falling out with Clarke than it did his ability with the bat.

Jake Stringer

The Western Bulldogs may have won the 2016 AFL Premiership, but the club did have a number of tough moments during their memorable campaign.

On the eve of the AFL Finals, coach Luke Beveridge made the controversial decision to drop star utility Jake Stringer to the VFL.

This may have been the wake-up call that he Stringer needed as well as a masterstroke from Beveridge because Stringer went on to play a key role in the Bulldog’s finals campaign.

Will Genia

Will Genia has been a key member – and often a rare shining light – in the Wallabies squad for over seven years, but he has been in and out of the Wallabies side in recent years.

The most controversial selection call involving Genia came in 2014 when he was axed from the Wallabies squad by then coach Ewen McKenzie ahead of their first midseason Test against France.

Genia rightfully returned to the Australian side and played a key role in their run to the final in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Tony Romo

Tony Romo went into the 2016 NFL season holding one of the safest starting spots in the entire competition, but finished the season as the back-up quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

Romo suffered a compression fracture to the L1 vertebra in his back during the Cowboys’ third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks and was replaced in the side by rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.

It was initially a foregone conclusion that Romo would walk back into the Cowboys side when he returned from injury, but Prescott was so successful that Romo was forced to concede his starting position.

Mark Schwarzer

Mark Schwarzer played a key role in qualifying Australia for the 2006 World Cup in Germany with his shoot-out heroics against Uruguay, but that did not earn him an automatic spot in the side.

Manager Guus Hiddink was not happy with the performance of Schwarzer in their first two games of the World Cup against Japan and Brazil and he dropped Schawarzer for the Socceroos’ crucial final pool game with Croatia.

Zeljko Kalac took the place of Schwarzer and Hiddink’s decision really didn’t go to plan – Kalac made a costly error that almost saw the Socceroos eliminated from the tournament in the pool stages.

Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen may be one of the best players to play for England in the modern era, but he has essentially been blacklisted from the English set-up.

Pietersen’s relationship with his teammates and English team management has not been a positive one and Pietersen was dumped from the English side after their shocking tour of Australia in 2013/2014.

Nash Rawiller

Nash Rawiller started the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival as the regular rider of Fiorente and he steered him to victory in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley, but that didn’t stop him getting axed from the ride in both the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup after Fiorente finished a close fourth in the Turnbull Stakes.

Owners and trainer Gai Waterhouse controversially replaced Rawiller with by Damien Oliver, who added insult to injury when he was able to win the Melbourne Cup on the imported stayer.