Comparison of Strength Levels Between Players From Within the Same Club Who Were Selected vs. Not Selected to Play in the Grand Final of the National Rugby League Competition

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Baker, DG. Comparison of strength levels between players from within the same club that were selected vs. not selected to play in the grand final of the National Rugby League competition. J Strength Cond Res 31(6): 1461–1467, 2017—A number of studies have established that higher levels of strength and power, tested at the end of the preseason, distinguish between playing level in professional rugby league. How this may impact the ability of players to get selected for final payoff games some 30 weeks later has not been fully investigated. The purpose of this study was to compare measures of upper- and lower-body strength between players from the same professional club, designated as those 17 players who attained selection and played in the team that won the Grand Final of the National Rugby League competition (GF) and those who did not attain selection (NSGF). Players were tested and compared for 1 repetition maximum bench press and full squat strength levels at the end of the preparation period, 30 weeks before the GF, using traditional significance analysis of variance and effect size (ES) statistics. Furthermore, the players were analyzed according to the 2 broad positional playing groups of forwards (FWD) and backs (BL). The results demonstrated that overall, the GF players were stronger than NSGF players by approximately 10 and 15%, respectively, for the upper and lower body. When analyzed according to positional groupings, there were significant differences and large ES for GF forwards, who were significantly stronger, heavier, and older than NSGF FWD players. For the BL groups, the differences between the groups were not significant. Because of the intense physical collisions inherent in rugby league, it would appear that higher levels of strength afford players greater performance benefits, resiliency against injury, and greater likelihood of being selected in the most important games at the end of the season.

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