Introductory Guide To The NRL, Part 3: The Positions

Hey lads, once again a big thanks to everyone who's read my posts, asked questions and commented. It's greatly appreciated. As for this post, I remarked in my rules article that I would write something with a little more depth in regards to the positions of Rugby League, defining their roles and whatnot. Well, here it is for your reading enjoyment.

Just as a little reminder, Rugby League is played with 13 men on the field at one time. These 13 are seperated into positions each with varying roles, sizes and importance. Another 4 players act as interchange players who substitute with the on-field starters throughout a game. Therefore, 17 players make up a Rugby League team.

The positions can be grouped fairly roughly into 3 main sections: Backs (quick, attacking players), Halves (organising players) and Forwards (bigger defensive players). First up:


Fullback - #1

The fullback is the all-rounder of the team, and often one of the best. Usually one of the most athletic players on the field, their job is to provide support to the halves who often look to them in attacking situations. They cover a lot of ground, being one of the few positions who don't have to stay to one side of the field. The Fullback's role is not just attacking though, they are also a very important defensive position. They act as the last line of defence, which means being called on to make last-ditch efforts to stop tries or line breaks (where the opposition has breached the defensive line). They are also responsible for receiving kicks from the other team, which means acting as the team's kick returner. This requires fantastic hands and leaping ability as they are also required to diffuse attacking kicks from the other team.

NFL Position - Running Back. I think RB's would do the best job in this role. They are fast, powerful runners and have great vision. They may lack the hands, but many RB's are returners.

Some good FB's: Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta), Billy Slater (Melbourne), Josh Dugan (Canberra).

Wingers - #2 & #5

Two wingers line up on the edge of each team, acting as flankers. Usually the fastest players on the field, their job is to finish off attacking moves, be the targets for attacking kicks and help the Fullback return kicks. Because of their role in the team, Wingers often need to be very fast, have good hands and be one of the best leapers on the team. Good body control is also important as they have to attempt scoring in the corner, which isn't easy. Defensively, Wingers aren't usually the most proficient, but they are important as they protect the edge of the defensive line from being outflanked.

NFL Position - Wide Receiver. Tall, Fast, good hands. Sounds like a WInger. Good leapers too.

Some good W's: Brett Morris (St George Illawarra), Lote Tuqiri (Wests), Akuila Uate (Newcastle).

Centres - #3 & #4

The Centres line up inside of the Wingers, and their job is equally important on offence and defence. Halves often look to the Centres on attacking raids as Centres are usually fast, with good footwork and passing abilities, making them capable of scoring tries themselves, or passing it to the Winger. Centres are also used in the kicking game as they can leap nearly as well as Wingers. On defence, the Centre is entrusted with protecting the flank along with the Winger, and since the Centre is usually a better defender, they often have to diffuse outflanking maneuvers.

NFL Position - Defensive Backs. Of similar style to receivers, just better tackles. May lack the ball skills, but their athleticism wouldn't go amiss.

Some good C's: Michael Jennings (Penrith), Jamie Lyon (Manly), Matt Cooper (St George Illawarra).


Five-Eighth - #6

The Five-Eighth is one of the guys leading the team in attack. They act as a 2nd receiver on offence, meaning they often receive the ball second after a play-the-ball, because of this they tend to set up attacking plays via passes or kicks. One of their main jobs is linking to the Wingers and Centres when on the attack, meaning the Five-Eighth must be a good passer as well as one of the stronger kickers on the team. Five-Eighth's are also known to be dangerous runners as well, making them capable of scoring tries. They also must be decent defenders.

NFL Position - Quarterback. The Halves are the hardest to compare since they need to so specialised in Rugby League skills. Quarterback is the specialty position of NFL, so they know how to pass, and are smart. They fit the best.

Some good FE's: Darren Lockyer (Brisbane), Jamie Soward (St George Illawarra), Benji Marshall (Wests)

Halfback - #7

The other organiser on the team, the Halfback is the main man responsible for feeding the forwards the ball as well as helping to get the ball to the backs on attacking raids. Often considered the most important player on the team, he is expected to be the smartest, the best passer as well as the best kicker. Because of his role, he often is protected the most in defence, no matter how much the forwards look to smash him. They can tackle fairly well, but because they also are usually the smallest on the team, a Halfback is susceptable to misstackles and injuries.

NFL Position - Quarterback. The Halves are the hardest to compare since they need to so specialised in Rugby League skills. Quarterback is the specialty position of NFL, so they know how to pass, and are smart. They fit the best.

Some good HB's: Jonathan Thurston (North Queensland), Scott Prince (Gold Coast), Mitchell Pearce (Sydney)


Props - #8 & #10

The biggest and strongest players on the team, their sole job is pretty much the physically damage the other team, either by delivering hard hitting tackles or cannoning into their defensive line during what's known as a Hit-up (virtually meaning running with the ball into the defensive line). The Prop's, and there are two, are the engine that drives the team. They eat up metres through hard runs, deliver quick play-the-balls so that the offence can get the upper hand, and on defense, try to slow the opposing team's forwards down via crushing tackles. The Props also are at the front of any scrum and are responsible for pushing if needed.

NFL Position - Defensive End. Of a similar size, the DE has the defensive capabiities, plus the power to do damage when he runs.

Some good P's: Petero Civoniceiva (Penrith), Sam Burgess (South Sydney), Ben Hannett (Brisbane).

Hooker - #9

The Hooker doesn't look much like a forward when you look at them. They tend to be smaller, stocky players, sorta like a Halfback, but they are some tough fellas. The Hooker's job is to receive most of the play-the-balls and pass it to the next player, usually the Halfback. Because of this, the Hooker is one of the most crucial players in the team. He intially controls where the ball goes and to whom. The Hooker therefore must be very smart as he needs to read the defensive line, understand where they are weak or short of players, and get it there. He also must be on the same page with the Halves who are setting up the attack. Hookers can also be dangerous attacking weapons in themselves, as they can run from behind the play-the-ball and catch the defense unaware. The Hooker is also responsible for winning the football in the scrum, as he locks in with the Props right up front. On defence, a Hooker is right in the thick of things, helping the Props to man the middle of the field, giving the Hookers a lot of work to do.

NFL Position - Inside Linebacker. Hooker wasn't easy, since it also requires specific skills. But an ILB has the right size, the athleticism, the smarts and the defensive capabilities.

Some good H's: Cameron Smith (Melbourne), Robbie Farah (Wests), MIchael Ennis (Canterbury).

Second Rowers - #11 & #12

A smaller version of the Prop's, responsible for many of the same things including hard runs and big hits, they line up slightly wider where their athleticism can be utilised. Expected to play the whole 80 mins, the Second Rowers are workhorses who are expected to do just as much work, if not more, then the Props. They pack the 2nd row of the scrum, hence the name. Second Rowers also can be dangerous attacking players since their power and speed can cause problems for defences, especially close to the goalline.

NFL Position - Outside Linebacker. Especialy the rush versions. Good size, plenty of power and a smidgen enough speed and agility to be dangerous when running the ball.

Some good SR's: Ben Creagh (St George Illawarra), Gareth Ellis (Wests), Nathan Hindmarsh (Parramatta).

Lock - #13

Very similar to the Second Rowers, which is why they are often grouped together in what is called the 'Back Row'. Expected to be very fit and tough, Locks are expected to make a lot of tackles and provide help to the other forwards on attacking runs. However, their main focus is tackling, which is why many Locks top tackle counts. They are the last player in the scrum which is why they are called Locks, they lock it together, and are responsible for the Halfback receiving the ball during a scrum.

NFL Position: TE/FB. Couldn't decide between the two. The FB fits better size-wise, but the TE is more athletic. Both have the power to fit though. Would need to learn how to tackle.

Some good L's: Paul Gallen (Cronulla), Sam Thaiday (Brisbane), Braith Anasta (Sydney)

Interchange - #14, #15, #16 & #17

The Interchange is the players who act as substitutes for the starting team. A coach can only make 10 changes during a game, so he must make the correctly. The 4 players on the Interchange are there to cover the team in case of injury or so that fresh players can play. The first two spots are usually substitute Props, while the other two are usually a substitute Hooker and a substitute Back. The Interchange therefore is usually made up of players who are just on the cusp of starting team selection, or play well in shorts bursts. Sometimes young players make the Interchange as well.

Well that's a brief look at the positions of Rugby League. Hope you enjoyed the post.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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