It seems the days of The Raging Bull, The Pearl, El Magic and The Hitman are over, as the NRL comes to terms with the fact that they are facing a concerning lack of imagination when it comes to nicknaming players.

This follows last week’s round of rugby league football, where at least three different players were referred to as ‘Big Papi’ by either NRL pundits or commentators.

Most notably, the biggest papi of them all, the 120-kilogram Canberra Raiders prop Josh Papalii who received the the big papi nickname as a play on his surname.

Similarly, Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen, who also has ‘Pap’ in his last name.

The third Big Papi is the most memorable in the shape of Bulldogs enforced Dylan Napa, who was bestowed the nickname by the Latin-American community during a self-care clinic in Las Vegas several years ago.

The distinct lack of new nicknames in the NRL speaks to a larger issue amongst the Australian sport of all codes – with the last most prominent moniker going to former Wallabie star Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins, who played for the Wallabies nearly ten years ago.

Even our Olympians don’t get nicknamed like they used to do in the days of Madame Butterfly, Thorpedo and Jumpin’ Jai.

However as the most colourful sporting code in Australia, some sports analysts argue that the NRL’s distinct lack of nicknames comes from the fact that most rugby league players have interesting enough real names – names like Cade Cust, Jayden Brailey, Jaemon Salmon and Payne Haas.

It is not clear whether rugby league nicknames are something that should be originated in the newspapers or amongst the fans.

The media is partly to blame however by refusing to pick up several burgeoning NRL nicknames that do exist on the fringe of NRL social media.

These ‘street nicknames’ include:

Latrell ‘The Taree Ferrari’ Mitchell, Kalyn ‘The Alien’ Ponga – and of course Tino ‘Big Country’ Faasuamaleaui.

Most NRL commentators were reportedly under the impression that Josh Addo-Carr’s first name was ‘Foxx’



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