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How to be the fittest on the Rugby League field.

How to be the fittest on the Rugby League field.
Published: 28/01/2020

Rugby League is a sport where your physical fitness needs are very different from others on your team because of your playing position. Ten years ago a forward was not expected to have as much endurance as an outside back that played all 80 minutes. In the modern age and with interchange being limited even further, forwards are expected to be able to play longer at the same intensity and backs are required to gain more meters to assist them. Forwards are more mobile and have greater passing skills, sometimes even great kicking ability. This is just one example of how the modern rugby league players is a more well-rounded athlete.

In particular, all 17 players on a team now should be able to play either 80 minutes at high intensity, or close to it. A player who can play longer with high intensity will be of higher value to a team and more likely progress to elite levels. So what does a Rugby League player need?

Without going to the ends of the spectrum in regards to absolute speed, strength, and endurance that particular positions require we will look at creating the strongest foundation that all rugby league athletes can and should begin with. The determinants of physical performance in rugby league are:

  • Endurance
  • Speed
  • Power
  • Strength
  • Agility


A player who can operate at higher levels for longer will be able to make better decisive actions whether it be passing, kickings, cutting or tackling. The tired players are always targeted by the opposing team. If you don't get tired and more importantly, it takes longer for your team to get tired you are more likely to win because fewer mistakes are made. The other positive to greater endurance is that you can contribute more to your team going forward, particularly if you play a position that demands you hit the ball up.


Speed is now everyone's game in rugby league. If you are faster than others then can't tackle you, you can create greater scoring opportunities and you can shut down attacking plays. Speed is a skill. Yes, few people naturally have the ability but they usually plateau in time because they don't know how to continually develop their greatest asset. The ability to move your body quickly or change direction immediately ultimately comes down to body control which starts with basic bodyweight movements performed well. If an athlete can not hold positions under a load of their own body weight whilst in a controlled, stable environment they have no chance when moving across a surface as quickly as possible.


Rugby League is a high contact sport. To beat your opponent you must be stronger than them on contact. If every run you make you can gain another 3-5m after the first contact through the strength to stay upright or break the first tackle you will gain another 30-50m over 10 hit-ups. Being stronger also allows you to take down bigger opposing players that have a natural advantage of more weight behind them. Most crucial of all though is that increased strength means increased power.


Power is commonly defined as strength applied at speed. Strength is not much good if it cannot be applied quickly in Rugby League. To contest a catch you must jump high which requires you to apply all your leg strength, fast. To fend off a tackler you must apply maximum pushing strength as quickly as you can. If these two situations were to occur slowly an athlete would barely get off the ground and most likely be pummeled by a tackler.


An athlete's ability to move the whole body quickly with a change of speed or direction, and in the case of rugby league, change direction is very important. This physical attribute allows a player to move into holes in the defensive line or create space by drawing defending players towards them. When combined with speed, agility makes a player extremely dangerous in attack.

When working with Rugby League players we prescribe programs that build athletes who excel in all physical attributes mentioned above. Our goal, to help an athlete become so well rounded in their fitness that they only need to focus on skill work outside of our program.

Book a free meeting with a professional coach today to discuss how we can help you or your child become a fitter rugby league player:

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