Written by Callum Walker
Known for his blonde locks and cumbersome running style, Eorl Crabtree spent all of his Rugby League career at Huddersfield Giants, registering 79 tries in 423 games.
During his 16 years spent with the Giants, Crabtree earned a reputation for a powerful forward; his huge 6 ft 5, 18 stone frame clearly ran in the family with uncle Shirley – aka “Big Daddy” – making it as a professional wrestler with a record 64 inch chest.
Whilst Shirley’s Rugby League career never got off the ground – he failed to register an appearance for Bradford Northern – Eorl’s took off from the moment he stepped on the field. The formidable figure debuted for Huddersfield in 2001 and then scored 25 tries in 37 league and cup appearances during Huddersfield’s promotion to Super League the following year. Remarkably, that year Crabtree played in the centres.
Despite appearing 16 times in a Huddersfield shirt in 2003, it was 2004 where Crabtree established himself as a regular in the first team, developing a reputation for his hard-hitting carries and imposing defence. In a superb few years, he helped Huddersfield reach the 2006 Challenge Cup Final, though the West Yorkshire side were beaten 12-42 by St Helens.
Then, in 2009, the man mountain was once more at the heart of the Giants’ increasing improvements, helping the club to a third-place finish in Super League and to the Challenge Cup Final, though they lost once more this time to Warrington Wolves 16-25.
Crabtree was in the form of his life and, after impressing national coach Tony Smith, the Cleethorpes-born forward was selected in the England squad for the 2009 Four Nations. For his nation, Crabtree notched up 18 appearances, scoring three tries.
Whilst his England career stuttered – his last appearance was in the 2010 Four Nations – his form at Huddersfield improved further. The forward was part of the famous Giants side that finished top of Super League in 2013 – for the first time in their history – and was one of four Huddersfield players to earn a place in the 2013 Dream Team.
With his career winding down, Crabtree retired in November 2016 aged 34 to take up a role with the commercial and marketing team at Huddersfield. Since then, the former Giant has also become a commentator and pundit for BBC Sport’s coverage of Rugby League.
As one of the most recognisable figures to have ever graced the sport, Crabtree was often the subject of taunts from opponents’ fans, the most popular being “a fat Robbie Savage”. Despite this, Crabtree remained humble and respectful on and off the field and, when he retired, Rugby League lost one of its great characters.
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