How Strong Are Rugby League Players

Rugby league is a physically demanding sport that requires players to be not only agile and skillful but also incredibly strong. The power, speed, and endurance displayed on the field are a testament to the rigorous training regimens that rugby league players undergo. In this article, we will delve into the world of rugby league strength, exploring the typical lifts expected from professional players, the strongest individuals in the sport, the largest players in rugby league history, and a glimpse into a typical rugby league weight lifting session.

The Typical Strength Standards for Rugby League Players

Professional rugby league players are expected to possess a high level of strength to excel on the field. While individual benchmarks may vary depending on position and player preference, some general standards can be outlined for key strength exercises:

  1. Bench Press: A rugby league player’s bench press strength can vary significantly depending on their position. However, an average professional player is expected to bench press at least 1.5 times their body weight, with many exceeding this standard.
  2. Deadlift: Deadlifting is essential for lower body and core strength. Professional rugby league players typically aim to deadlift at least 2 times their body weight as a baseline, with top performers exceeding this by a significant margin.
  3. Squat: Squats are crucial for leg and lower body strength. A professional rugby league player’s squat is generally expected to be at least 1.5 times their body weight, but many surpass this standard.

The Strongest Rugby League Players

Several rugby league players stand out for their exceptional strength:

  1. David Klemmer: The Australian prop is renowned for his power. Klemmer boasts a bench press of over 180 kilograms, a deadlift of around 300 kilograms, and a squat close to 250 kilograms.
  2. Sam Burgess: The former England international and South Sydney Rabbitohs star had an impressive bench press of around 160 kilograms, a deadlift close to 300 kilograms, and a squat exceeding 250 kilograms during his rugby league career.
  3. Paul Gallen: The former Cronulla Sharks captain, known for his work ethic, had notable strength stats including a bench press of over 160 kilograms, a deadlift approaching 280 kilograms, and a squat exceeding 240 kilograms.

The Largest Rugby League Players of All Time

Rugby league has seen some giants grace the field. Here are a few of the largest players in the sport’s history:

  1. Jason Taumalolo: The New Zealand-born forward, who plays for the North Queensland Cowboys, stands at 6’3″ (190 cm) and weighs around 250 pounds (113 kg). His immense size and power make him a formidable opponent.
  2. Willie Mason: The former Australian international and enforcer for multiple NRL teams, including the Bulldogs and Roosters, weighed in at around 260 pounds (118 kg) during his prime.
  3. Martin Taupau: The New Zealand international and Wests Tigers and Manly Sea Eagles prop stands at 6’2″ (188 cm) and weighs approximately 260 pounds (118 kg), making him a dominant force in the forward pack.

A Typical Rugby League Weight Lifting Session

A rugby league weight lifting session is designed to enhance strength, power, and muscular endurance. Here’s an outline of what such a session might entail:

  1. Warm-Up: Players begin with a dynamic warm-up to increase blood flow, followed by mobility exercises to prepare joints and muscles for lifting.
  2. Compound Lifts: The core of the session includes compound lifts like bench press, deadlift, and squat. These exercises target major muscle groups and build functional strength. Players typically perform multiple sets with varying repetitions, gradually increasing weight.
  3. Isolation Exercises: To address specific weaknesses and imbalances, rugby league players often incorporate isolation exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, and calf raises.
  4. Plyometrics: Explosive power is crucial in rugby league. Plyometric exercises like box jumps, medicine ball throws, and power cleans help improve explosiveness and agility.
  5. Recovery and Cool Down: After the intense lifting session, players engage in stretching and foam rolling to aid recovery and reduce the risk of injury.
  6. Periodization: Training programs are often periodized to progress through different phases, emphasizing strength, power, or muscular endurance depending on the stage of the season.


The strength of rugby league players is a testament to their dedication to training and conditioning. Bench presses, deadlifts, squats, and other exercises are integral to building the physicality required for the sport. As players continue to push the boundaries of their strength and conditioning, the rugby league world will witness even more incredible feats of power and athleticism on the field. These athletes prove that strength is not just a component of rugby league; it’s a defining characteristic.

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