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Titans forward Jai Arrow hurts his ankle

So what is the most painful position in rugby league?

We're not talking Todd Greenberg trying to balance the budget, or Peter Beattie hoping social media will be nicer to him.

We're talking which of the 13 positions on the playing field hurts the most at the end of 80 minutes.

Is it the hooker, who usually makes the most tackles per game? Is it the props who bash themselves up with every carry? Or is it the backs, who have more high-velocity collisions?

In other words, who limps the worst at recovery sessions the next day?

"Probably the forwards as we do more work and keep running into bigger blokes," said Manly back-rower Jack Gosiewski. "So for physical soreness, I’d say anyone in the middle."

Prop/lock Morgan Boyle has a far different opinion. The Sea Eagles hard-working middle man thinks it is the fellow out the back that cops the biggest beating.

"I’d hate to be a fullback waiting to catch the ball with me, and blokes like me, running full pelt at you. That hit has got to hurt for days," Boyle told

“In the middle I just accept that there will be a few painful hit-ups that I’ll feel in bed that night… and for the next day or so."

Ben Hunt tries to put the brakes on Payne Haas in Origin I
Ben Hunt tries to put the brakes on Payne Haas in Origin I ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

When interviewed by earlier this week, Queensland hooker Ben Hunt offered his plan to try to alleviate his pain when tackling "the big boys", like NSW prop Payne Haas in Origin I.

"I just didn't want to let him wind up too much,” Hunt said. "The quicker I can get up on him the less pace he's got coming at me.

"That's how I try to approach the big boys. If I can get up before they start running too fast then I've got a better chance."

Manly hooker Manase Fainu accepts the knocks and the lingering pain with the No.9 territory. But he thinks there's a position that attracts more damage.

"I think Chez [Daly Cherry-Evans] at halfback. Big blokes running at him all afternoon. That can't be fun," Fainu said.

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But that's as much sympathy as Fainu will give any back, when it comes to moving very gingerly at recovery. 

"Backs carry on a bit but definitely the forwards – more tackles, more leg work, that means more pain."

Moving from players to NRL high-performance managers and Sharks physiotherapy guru Andrew Gray has a different take on who looks worse for wear post-match.

"Nobody if we’ve won," he said.

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"Players in the worst condition at recovery are often the players with the highest overall game load the night before.

"For me, 80-minute hookers are the champions. Most tackles are on bigger guys, so combined with high running loads means they're pretty sore."

Gray is one of those men who carry the 'green whistles' – instant pain relief for players who fracture ankles, legs, or twist joints badly. Dislocated shoulders are never fun either.

But asked to nominate which injury is the most painful, and Gray was stumped for a second.

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"Broken bones - lower leg especially - often also involve significant damage to the surrounding tissues such as muscles, tendons and ligaments," Gray said.

"The amount of tissue that is damaged, and how good it’s nerve supply is, are the most important determinants of pain.

"I think bad rib injuries are right up there too. Injury to the rib cage can make it very hard to breathe and these injuries often occur when a player is breathing very heavily due to working really hard."


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.

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