JAMES SHIELD: Big Mase set to make huge impression in Blighty

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FOR those unfamiliar with the impish charms of Willie Mason, that cheeky chappie who will hopefully be reporting for duty with Super League outfit Hull Kingston Rovers next month, his youtube page is required viewing.

There, it is possible to marvel at the ball-carrying skills which have seen him collect more than 20 rugby league caps for Australia.

Admire the steely determination required to win State of Origin honours with New South Wales. Witness the potent combination of pace and power which, not so long ago, saw him become a target for several American Football franchises including the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49-ers and, most recently, the New York Jets.

Or, if this type of thing tickles your fancy, relive the moment during the 2006 Tri-Nations Series against Great Britain when he broke the nose of fellow prop Stuart Fielden with a single punch before sparking a full-blooded mass brawl.

Aficionados of the 13-man code will know this wasn’t the first time Willie had found himself in a spot of bother.

Nor would it be the last.

Now 30 years of age, Mason’s rap sheet Down Under includes being fined for forging a teammate’s signature after being spotted by a fan during a curfew-breaking night out, verbally challenging a female radio reporter at Sydney Airport, getting caught urinating in public during another quiet, cultured evening on the town and various other often alcohol-related brushes with authority.

(We’ll forgive him a nightclub altercation with the equally outspoken Richie Williams).

Mason had yet to arrive in the United Kingdom when his Rovers teammates kicked-off their campaign in Cardiff over the weekend. Paperwork issues mean he is unlikely to arrive for a good few weeks.

When he does, he will link-up with Ben Cockayne, who two years ago narrowly escaped jail for assault and, possibly given his affiliations, bump into another unassuming young man called Paul Cooke.

Talking Sport freely admits its allegiances in the ‘greatest game’ lie firmly east of the Myton Bridge. But Rovers’ is one end-of-season party that I’ll be glad to miss!