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RL: Role of the Second Row forward in Rugby League

By Ron Knox
February 20 2006

One of the most striking visible differences Quins fans will notice when our Rugby League team takes the field is in body shape. All League players are built for power and explosive speed regardless of the position they occupy on the field. This creates a prime requirement for an ultra athletic build and aerobic conditioning whether you are a prop or a winger.

The more technical and specialist roles of the Rugby Union forward often require different physical attributes of course. The thick-set, burly prop whose predominant responsibility is to scrummage is one example. There are of course exceptions, one outstanding one being Andrew Sheridan of Sale, who to me looks a powerful athlete. You wonder how much effective he would be taking the ball up if he wasnt knackered by being pressured in the scrum constantly. However Im sure he is the blueprint prop of the future.

Then there are the Second Rows. Ultra tall guys who can leap perpendicular have always been the norm. However since the legalisation of lifting in the line-out and therefore almost certain to win your own ball, is the role of the Second Row more wide-ranging, requiring more all-round talents? This moves the position a little closer to the role of the Rugby league back rower where having all the skills is paramount. League followers are very interested in the development of someone like Chris Jones of Sale who is the fastest Union Second Row I have ever seen. Is he the blueprint of the future too?

There are many different styles of play amongst second rowers in Rugby League, and selection of certain players indicates the sort of game the coach wants to play, and he can change game strategy during the game by substitutions of players with different styles. A fast attacking game is characterised by the selection of quick elusive pacey second rows who can run out wide alongside the centres. Indeed some are converted centres, a classic example being current Great Britain Second Row Paul Johnson of Bradford, who has played international rugby at centre.

Alternatively there are the powerful industrious second rows who are typically the workhorses of the team. Operating just off the middle of the line, often at second or third receiver, they are involved in seemingly everything most tackles, taking the ball up, or supporting any break. Sometimes they are even asked to go up the middle and play prop. Indeed two current Great Britain players who played prop in the recent Tri Nations series are converted Second Rows Jamie Peacock (now at Leeds) and the fearsome Adrian Morley of the Sydney Roosters.

Quins RL Second Rows cover many different styles, and ones to look out for include Australian Lee Hopkins an elusive runner who is unbelievably industrious, often makes the most tackles in a game, 35+. Our power runner par excellence is ex pro boxer Solomon Haumono, who when he runs out wide creates havoc, and is very difficult to stop. Hes a bigger version of George Harder!

One of the success stories of professional rugby league in London is locally born Joe Mbu. Joe is the first southerner to come through the junior ranks and make the grade in Super League. He is work rate personified and is a superb defensive player.

A recent addition has been New Zealander Karl Temata, a Cook Island international from the New Zealand Warriors. A tall, rangy player with an extra yard of pace, he will add plenty of size and speed to the pack.

The most experienced forward in the team is Australian Danny Williams. Danny likes to play the game rough and tough and has a fearsome reputation. He invariably leads the way when the going gets tough. Ask league fans about a set of six he instigated against Huddersfield Giants in a vital match last year it will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Awesome in its aggression and intensity.

One of our most successful British players is Cumbrian Rob Purdham, who has been with us for the last few years and has developed into one of the best forwards in Super League. An ex stand off who moved to Loose Forward, he played most of last year in the Second Row. Very fast with a killer side step, and a superb defender, we all hope Rob might become the first Quins RL Great Britain international.

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