NRL’s strongest men revealed
By Tyson Otto From: The Daily Telegraph February 15, 2010 12:00AM
THESE are rugby league’s men of steel. Between them there is enough grunt and muscle fibre to lift a three-tonne army jeep - and do it three or four times with ease.
Building power is the most important part of pre-season training and strength and conditioning coaches have traditionally guarded their secrets better than the CIA.
The Wests Tigers and Newcastle trainers refused to pull down the iron curtain, hiding their players’ anaerobic and plyometric performance information.
However, players at both clubs had no qualms telling The Daily Telegraph which players were the strongest in their team.
Because of the different training programs, it is impossible to name the definitive NRL strong man, but we can reveal the strongest player pound-for-pound at all 16 clubs.
Manly halfback Kieran Foran was the biggest surprise, with the 88kg Kiwi teenager able to bench-press a whopping 170kg - almost twice his body weight.
Foran has bulked up 2kg this pre-season and has a clear claim to the title of rugby league’s strongest pound-for-pound player.
But it is the biggest men, such as Foran’s teammate George Rose, who throw around mind-boggling weights.
Rose bench-presses the NRL record of 180kg, but he has strong competition from Bulldogs second-rower Micky Paea, Roosters youngster Martin Kennedy and Warriors forward Jacob Lillyman.
But strength and conditioning coaches agree there’s no point looking like Tarzan if you play like Jane.
Bulldogs high-performance manager Harry Harris said gym performance was not as vital on the field as courage, determination and skill.
Manly powerhouse Anthony Watmough may not be as strong as Rose, but the Kangaroos representative uses his power on the field better than anyone.
Watmough made 138 tackle busts and 15 line-breaks in 2009 - more than any forward.
Rabbitohs’ star gym junkie Eddy Pettybourne made nine line-breaks in 2009 - the eighth highest for a forward.
Canberra Raiders giant Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Rose also used their strength to devastating effect in 2009, with both averaging nearly nine metres per hit-up.
Titans speedster Esi Tonga made most of his line-breaks with speed and agility, but he still managed to produced the biggest lift recorded by strength and conditioning coaches this pre-season - a 230kg modified squat.
Incredibly, the 100kg Tongan international is able to squat heavier loads than Sharks powerhouse Luke Douglas and Learoyd-Lahrs, who both squat a bar-bending 220kg.
One of the most impressive performances of the off-season has come from Panthers’ 20-year-old NRL rookie Sam McKendry, who has dropped 12kg since October while maintaining a 220kg deadlift for four repetitions.
Panthers strength and conditioning coach Carl Jennings said McKendry’s focus on power, not size, was the key to his improvement on the field.
“Size isn’t important anymore - it’s all about power, strength and speed,” Jennings said.
"We’ve had a lot of our bigger guys trim down because their size wasn’t boosting their performance.
“The game’s heading in a direction where the really big forwards won’t be able to match it with the really strong and powerful forwards.”
The Broncos and Storm refused to release their strength and conditioning performance indicators but did announce their strongest player.
Harris said no trainer would give up information on their star power-lifters for fear of putting pressure on them to perform during matches.
“I’m not worried about comparing their performance to other clubs, I’m just worried that people will think Micky’s unstoppable and he’s underperforming or something,” Harris said.
The Bulldogs said it was virtually impossible to select one player as the strongest, with Ben Hannant, Michael Ennis and Brett Kimmorley stronger in some areas.
Geez I’m suprised foran is so strong. Only a small bloke.
Yes indeed, he’d be one bloke who could surprise bigger men if he has a good defensive technique. Surprised Galloway wasn’t mentioned for the Tigers this year. He was listed as their strongest last year with a 160kg bench press. Not surprised the Tigers kept their results in-house this year though, I’d say all of them are stronger, faster and fitter under Folkes fitness/strength regime.