What are the various requirements for each position in rugby league – the ideal skills and attributes a coach looks for in his players to determine who makes the squad.
The only position where a bit of a gut is acceptable, even celebrated.
Most importantly the prop should be able to hit the ball up with a 105-plus kilogram frame, go past the advantage line, bend the defence so they’re on the back foot, make the tough carries when their team is pinned to their own try line, and muscle up against the opposition’s big men.
Intimidation factor is necessary, so the prop should have been involved in several dust ups over the years – on and off the field, and even against some of his teammates in his junior days, so the opposition know he’s a bit cray cray. A nickname of ‘Biff’ or ‘Bruiser’ doesn’t go astray either.
One of the props in the squad will actually be quite smart, have a uni degree, and speak eloquently. This prop is necessary to guide the other boofheads around the park.
Favoured tattoo type: family name across his décolletage, just in case he forgets.
With a position name that was always going to make him the brunt of jokes, the poor old hooker wanted to be halfback growing up but, alas, he was too ugly and chubby to be given that glamorous role.
That and the fact his junior coaches knew he was more prepared to get his hands dirty and mix it up with the big men in the middle, risking injury, than the halfback (the coach’s son).
He’ll defend well above his weight, give good ball service by perfecting the slightly-forward-but-looks-backwards-pass to his forwards, and have the ability to send a long one out to his halfback from a crouching, bush-defecation position.
He must enjoy, nay, take pride in bum tapping his teammates to get up for a quick play the ball, especially after they’ve just been smashed.
Spends the whole game licking his lips for the moment the opposition players around the ruck are looking tired to make a quick dart from dummy half, particularly hoping the opportunity will come up near the try line – even if it doesn’t, you can be sure the hooker will waste a couple of tackles a game with a futile attempt while there is a three-man overlap out wide.
Favoured tattoo type: barbed wire around the bicep just to show he’s as tough as the other forwards… and Pammy Anderson.
The second rower should be continuing the hit-ups after the props, and be able to work with the halves to hit a hole with decent speed. He operates particularly on the fringes of the ruck running at the smaller men, forcing the opposition halves to make tackles and tire them out.
A supreme and tireless defender, the second rower should be capable of playing the full 80 minutes, notching up at least 30 tackles a game, and is capable of putting on a big shot to fire up his teammates.
The second row is also the domain of the thug. He should have a chequered and possibly violent past, links to gangs, and have had some brushes with law. If he’s got a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock the coach won’t be concerned, in fact he’ll be quite pleased, happy to give away a few penalties if it means the opposition know they’re up against a lunatic.
Favoured tattoo type: sleeve and neck combo involving scary medieval images of skulls, swords, and death.
Similar to second row but with a better passing game, a handy kicking game, more footy brains, and better looking. The lock is the glamour boy of the forwards, who capitalises on the hard yards done by the front and second rows, sliding into yawning gaps on the fringes or slipping balls to outside backs, scoring the most tries and accumulating the most personal sponsors.
He has some of the skill set to a five-eighth, and relishes slotting in there when required, but with a lot more bulk in case he actually has to make a hit up. A non-negotiable trait with the coach is that the lock is a cover-defending specialist, shutting down breaks like his life (read contract) depends on it.
Favoured tattoo type: something a little fruity like a butterfly, rose, or dolphin.
With a name like Ralfy or Micky, the halfback should have an excellent passing and kicking game, be able to read the defence and adapt the attack accordingly, be prepared to take on the line, be quick over 40 metres, and have a stocky frame that enables him to provide at least decent defence.
Will be a cheeky little bugger resulting from having groupies growing up, getting all the praise for the team’s victories, a mild to medium case of small-man syndrome, and years of getting away with murder off the park in the junior ranks thanks to his dad being the coach or club president.
Favoured tattoo type: didn’t really want one but felt insecure and wanted to fit in with the rest of the team – tribal sleeve, representative of his farming background from Wagga Wagga, NSW.
These days, the role of the five-eighth is very similar to that of the halfback, often exactly the same just playing on opposite sides of the field. Generally though, the five-eighth will have brilliant attacking flair and possess more of a running game, slightly more bulk to assist in busting through the defence, and the ability to draw defenders before passing to the outside backs.
Favoured tattoo type: party gang acronym across his chest – B.B.F.T.R.W.D.L.A.P.L.R.H (Bad boys from the riff who drink lots and party lots real hard).
Will almost certainly have had a troubled childhood, resulting in a previous/impending meltdown at some stage of his career that involves alcohol and dubious behaviour. The centre’s most important qualities are explosive speed, a great swerve and step, and the natural skill to regularly beat defenders in one-on-one situations.
The coach will particularly like centres with the nous to draw in the opposition winger, combined with a nifty offloading capability to put his winger over the line where necessary.
Favoured tattoo type: mandatory sleeve, plus tramp stamp of Chinese language character he thinks means ‘live, laugh, love’. It actually says ‘sweet and sour pork’.
Needs to be blessed with lightning speed, good hands and leap, be able to find the line through any means of contorted dive necessary, and be willing to put their body on the line diving on the ball around the in-goal area.
The most aloof player on the team, courtesy of years of being told he can’t tackle and isn’t good enough to be centre or fullback, the winger needs to be willing to help out the forwards with some early hit ups or dummy half runs after opposition kicks, and be prepared to cop some hits.
As long as his speed isn’t impacted, size is also a desirable trait for a winger in the modern game.
Favoured tattoo type: clean skin… so everyone thinks! While he goes hard on the field, he’s a softy at heart – Mum’s name on his backside.
Arguably the modern game’s most influential position, the fullback needs to fuse the outside back skills of a winger and centre with the ball-playing skills of a five-eighth, and have exceptional field positioning.
He will need to be somewhat enigmatic and employ liberal lashings of post-try celebrations. He has real star quality, hence is a fan favourite and media darling, which the coach hopes will entice sponsors, members, and a contract extension for himself.
Favoured tattoo type: inspiring quote across his forearm “You’ve got what it takes, but it will take everything you’ve got, so go got it”.
Over to you Roarers, what other characteristics and skills are desirable for players in each position?