Andrew Johns and Billy Slater issue Reed Mahoney warning over 'rubbish' NRL acts

The NRL greats believe Mahoney's niggling tactics will do more harm than good for his side.

In the 2024 NRL season, Reed Mahoney has quickly become one of the league's most hated players by taking up the role at the Bulldogs once held by Michael Ennis. The hooker has made it his mission game after game to get under the skin of rival players and just be a serial pest.

Against the Knights, Mahoney got Newcastle enforcer Jack Hetherington sent to the sin bin before his carry-on saw him join him. The pair then were embroiled in a scuffle in the tunnel which saw Hetherington retrospectively suspended.

Last weekend against the Tigers Mahoney was at it again, this time on the end of a headbutt from Tigers forward Alex Seyfarth in a melee. After the match, Canterbury's dummy-half was charged by the match review committee with contrary conduct, as well as a separate charge for a dangerous throw against the joint venture.

Andrew Johns and Billy Slater right and Reed Mahoney left
Andrew Johns and Billy Slater believe Reed Mahoney's niggling tactics will do more harm than good for his side. Image: Getty

The latest act has seen NRL greats Billy Slater and Andrew Johns urge the hooker to just focus on his footy and get the rubbish out of his game. "It has sort of crept into his game a little bit," Slater said on Nine's The Billy Slater Podcast.


"He doesn't need that, he is a wonderful player and a great little competitor. He is a crafty No.9 and a great defender. He doesn't need that sort of stuff in his game. It's starting to grab the headlines around him as a player and you don't want that. I'm sure he will tidy that side of things up."

Players such as Ennis, Will Chambers and Greg Bird were notorious for treading a fine line throughout their careers but Slater says there is no need for Mahoney to do the same. Slater warned that the Bulldogs would suffer greatly if the attacking threat ended up on the sidelines - whether it's through being in the sin bin or through suspension.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 02: Reed Mahoney of the Bulldogs is seen dejected at full time after the round 18 NRL match between Canterbury Bulldogs and Newcastle Knights at Accor Stadium on July 02, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)
Reed Mahoney has established himself as one of the premier NRL nigglers.

Mahoney has been pivotal in the Bulldogs' success so far in 2024 but Johns is worried his actions aren't just damaging his current reputation, stating it could affect his long-term legacy. "Reed Mahoney's coming in third man and it's a couple of times he has done it this year, to agitate and carry on, because there's no fear of being punched in the head," Johns said on The Sunday Footy Show.

"There's no natural justice on the field, there's no consequences, and for little blokes to run up to big blokes and carry on and get in their face, it drives me mad. Reed's a really good guy - but you're gonna finish your career and you don't want your legacy to be that he was an agitator, grub or pest. He's too tough to do that. He's a tough player, he rips in defensively, he doesn't need to do this absolute rubbish."