Monday , April 19 2021

Biggest loser in NRL’s weight loss trend

As part of a series examining every NRL roster, THE NRL ECONOMIST Ramy Haidar identifies which NRL teams are the heaviest and tallest, and how this can be exploited.

The average weight of NRL players has decreased with physiques becoming leaner and taller.

In season 2021, the typical first-grade player weighs in at 99kg, which is 1kg lighter than five years ago. While the discrepancy may appear trivial, consider that this decrease has come despite an increase in average height of 0.7cm.

Simply put, players are lankier with bulk is no longer as desirable. The trend an inevitable consequence of the six-again rule change adversely impacting heavier frames.

Across the NRL, the average back weighs in at 93.8kg, compared with forwards at 104kg.

When ranking teams, the Manly Sea Eagles stand out as the bulkiest, with both the heaviest backs and forwards in the competition. They are also the tallest, with an average height of 188.6cm across their entire squad.

In contrast, teams like the St George Illawarra Dragons, Cronulla Sharks and Gold Coast Titans have the lightest squads. To illustrate the disparity, consider that the average Dragons player weighs 6.8kg less than the average Sea Eagle.

Surprisingly, anthropometric comparisons indicate that AFL players are only slightly taller than NRL players (AFL 187.9cm vs NRL 186.3cm). However, a major discrepancy arises in weight, with the average AFL frame of 87.3kg markedly lighter than the NRL’s 99kg.

While the majority of coaching staff look to follow current size trends, the cleverest ignore them and utilise their points of difference.

For instance, in 1993, former Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett selected the large frame of Wendell Sailor on the wing. Sailor’s mass, high work rate and early-set yardage created an extra forward for the team.

The consequence? Wingers became larger as rival coaches across the competition attempted to mimic the success of the supercoach, who transformed the role of wingers.

Perhaps the best example of evolving the size of a position can be attributed to current Canberra Raiders head of recruitment Peter Mulholland. Coaching at the North Sydney Bears in 1994, he suggested that back-up halfback Mark Soden play as a creative lightweight hooker instead.

The introduction of the 10-metre defensive rule helped make Soden’s mid-season switch a success, with rivals predictably following the craze to select smaller, quicker, and more creative hookers.

Mulholland understood that height and weight is not what provides the advantage.

Being unique does.

Squad (2021)

Weight (kg)

Rank

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

102.6

1

North Queensland Cowboys

101.7

2

New Zealand Warriors

101.4

3

Parramatta Eels

100.6

4

Brisbane Broncos

99.9

5

Penrith Panthers

99.6

6

Melbourne Storm

99.5

7

Newcastle Knights

99.5

8

Wests Tigers

99.4

9

South Sydney Rabbitohs

98.2

10

Canterbury Bulldogs

97.6

11

Canberra Raiders

97.5

12

Sydney Roosters

97.4

13

Gold Coast Titans

97.2

14

Cronulla Sutherland Sharks

96.1

15

St George Illawarra Dragons

95.8

16

AVERAGE

99

Squad (2021)

Height (cm)

Rank

Manly Sea Eagles

188.6

1

Melbourne Storm

187.6

2

Penrith Panthers

187.2

3

North Queensland Cowboys

187.2

4

New Zealand Warriors

187

5

Newcastle Knights

187

6

Wests Tigers

186.8

7

Canterbury Bulldogs

186.5

8

Parramatta Eels

186.4

9

Sydney Roosters

186.3

10

South Sydney Rabbitohs

186.2

11

Brisbane Broncos

186.1

12

St George Illawarra Dragons

184.6

13

Gold Coast Titans

184.4

14

Cronulla Sharks

184.4

15

Canberra Raiders

184

16

AVERAGE

186.3

 

Disclaimer: Ramy Haidar is employed by NRL club the Manly Sea Eagles. You can follow him on Twitter @ramy_haidar



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