Strongest players from every NRL team for 2018 revealed.
Strongest players from every NRL team for 2018 revealed.

Muscle men: Strongest players at every NRL club revealed

BIG men lifting even bigger weight - what could be better?

It's a necessity for pre-season training and sets the tone for the season ahead.

It's no secret that you have to have some sort of a physical presence when playing rugby league at the elite level.

The closer you get to the middle of the field, the more important strength becomes.

With players getting bigger, faster and stronger each year, the importance of performing in the gym has never been greater.

While you'd expect the big men to dominate when it comes to tossing tin around the gym, some little men have achieved some stunning feats when you take into account their body weight in relation to the amounts they lift.

We have uncovered just how much iron the game's sturdiest men are throwing around and will reveal, at the bottom of our story, who has the biggest lift of them all.


You may not know the name Salesi Funaki but you soon will.

The 23-year-old has been in the Brisbane system for a couple of years and edging towards an NRL start.

If his pre-season testing is anything to go by, the forward could be in for a big year.

Tipping the scales at 110kg, Funaki squats more than double his body weight.

Salesi Funaki at Broncos training.
Salesi Funaki at Broncos training.

The prop boasts a 230kg one rep max for his squat and around 170kg for his bench.

"His strength across the board has improved out of sight this year," Broncos high performance manager Jeremy Hickmans said.

"We have some big men in the team but in terms of raw power, Salesi is our strongest."

When asked who the strongest pound for pound athlete is, new strength coach Ryan Whitley replied; "there are no weight classes in the jungle, lad."


Samoan international Junior Paulo has overtaken Shannon Boyd as Canberra's strongest overall player.

The bragging rights belonged to Boyd last year but 24-year-old Paulo has had a big pre-season in the weights room.

While the former Eel is strongest, 22-year-old backrower Luke Bateman is the pound-for-pound king in the nation's capital.

Luke Bateman in the gym.
Luke Bateman in the gym.

"We've got a number of guys in the forwards who can lift big but overall Junior is probably the strongest," Raiders strength coach Leigh Woodbridge said.

"Luke Bateman is also very strong for one of the smaller forwards and does some impressive numbers."


With a new staff at the Bulldogs, 23-year-old forward Danny Fualalo has wasted little time impressing.

The 108kg forward has recorded a massive 180kg bench press during the pre-season testing.

It's a huge improvement on his PB's from last year which was 150kg for three reps followed by 25 reps of 80kg for endurance.


The inspirational skipper dominates this data each year. While that's no great shock, what's most surprising is Paul Gallen's numbers continue to rise.

Despite being the oldest player at the club at 36, Gallen is still getting stronger and pushing his physical limits.

Paul Gallen inside the gym.
Paul Gallen inside the gym.

Gallen recorded a personal best 240kg lift for three reps during the off-season.

While his window for heavy strength training is small due to his boxing load and playing duties, he's increased his deadlift by 10kg from his biggest lift recorded last year.


While there are some impressive physiques at the club, Josh Aloiai has the biggest bench press.

The 22-year-old recorded a 180kg bench over the pre-season.


True strength is best measured pound-for-pound and at 85kg, new recruit Mitch Rein is the strongest on the Gold Coast.

The pint sized No.9 squats 155kg for one rep, doubles his body weight in deadlifting with 180kg and bench presses 145kg.

Garth Brennan talks with Mitch Rein during training.
Garth Brennan talks with Mitch Rein during training.

While Rein is king pound-for-pound, Titans head of performance Hayden Knowles revealed it's Nathan Peats who has topped every fitness test the club has done.

"One of the most competitive athletes I have ever worked with," Knowles said.

"His desire to be the best is so good to see on a daily basis. A player that no doubt players would love to play with and in our positions the type of player you love to work with."


There are two new muscle monsters in Brookvale.

While Marty Taupau has dominated the weights room in Manly since joining the club in 2016, he's no longer the strongest on the bench press.

Former Parramatta prop Kelepi Tanginoa has claimed those bragging rights. He holds the Eels' bench press record at 180kg but he's beaten his PB at the Sea Eagles to claim their record with a 185kg lift in December.

"This kid is built like a brick," Taupau told Fox Sports.

"He's short, strong. He's got bench record, squat record but at the end of the day, can you palm? Can you run long distance? It's good to have players keeping you on your heels."

Manly players working on their deadlifts in the gym.
Manly players working on their deadlifts in the gym.

While Taupau still holds the record for biggest deadlift with a PB of 310kg, but Tanginoa and new recruit Toff Shipley are nipping at his heels.

The Warriors recruit was a standout performer inside the gym, recording a 300kg lift over the pre-season, as did Tanginoa.

"There's a few players that have taken the records off me," Taupau said.

"I've realised in the last couple of years, you can lift all the weights in the world but let's see how well you can play footy, it's all about that fine balance. I'll let all the young boys have the records."


Nelson Asofa-Solomona is a man mountain at 201cm and 115kg.

So genetically gifted, the forward was destined to be a star in the gym.

With a bar across his back, he's in a league of his own.

Asofa-Solomona has the biggest squat at the club but the heaviest bench is a tie.

Jesse Bromwich and Christian Welch dominate the bench press.


Pat Mata'utia of the Knights in action.
Pat Mata'utia of the Knights in action.

They have some big men in their side but it's a 24-year-old centre turned backrower who boasts the biggest squat.

Pat Mata'utia has the biggest three rep max with the bar across his back.

When it comes to the bench press, 93kg backrower Jamie Buhrer is the pound-for-pound strongest at the club.


The Cowboys split their strength training groups into four teams from weakest to strongest.

Based on looks alone, you'd expect Jason Taumalolo to dominate the weights room but the lock denies this is the case.

"Compared to everyone else I'd say I go alright but not too good," Taumalolo said.

"A lot of boys expect me to be throwing around weights like it should be nothing but I'm more of a running type person. In the gym in not really that strong compared to everyone else."

Francis Molo at Cowboys training.
Francis Molo at Cowboys training.

It's understood new recruit Francis Molo and young forward Corey Jensen are the biggest lifters at the Cowboys.

Their best lifts are the bench press and squats.

It's not uncommon for the other three groups to stop and marvel at Molo and Jensen piling on the plates.


In the backline George Jennings and NYC graduate Greg Leleisiuao are the strongest.

These two men dominate the power movements from bench press, deadlifts, squats and bench throws.

In the forwards it's new recruit Tony Williams who dominates the bench press.


Halfback Mason Lino can back squat 185kg.

In pound-for-pound terms, the 24-year-old is lifting 2.2 times his body weight.


South Sydney have completely revamped their training inside the gym this year.

Anthony Seibold revealed making changes to their strength and conditioning program was one of his first priorities when taking up the job as coach.

"Jarrod Wade is our strength and conditioning coach," Seibold told

Hymel Hunt of the Rabbitohs makes a break.
Hymel Hunt of the Rabbitohs makes a break.

"He's done a really good job improving the players' strength which we needed.

"I thought from a strength point of view, we were a little bit off from the clubs that I've worked at so it's been a real focus for us."

Hymel Hunt has overtaken George Burgess as the biggest squatter in the club.

Burgess registered a squat of 250kg last year which was beaten by the outside back during testing this year although the club has guarded the number.

In terms of pound-for-pound strongest, that honour goes to Damien Cook who just pipped 18-year-old flyer Campbell Graham.


There's plenty of big units in Wollongong but when it comes to the bench press, Tyson Frizell is the boss.

The Kangaroos backrower weighs 108kg and recorded a 175kg bench press for one rep.

But if you want an epic number, you need to look to the outside backs.

Jordan Pereira joined the club mid last year and can squat an enormous amount of weight.

The winger recorded a one rep max for his back squat of 275kg.


Fringe forward Chris Smith dominates inside the gym.

While the Roosters wouldn't divulge specific numbers, it's understood the 24-year-old deadlifts more than 200kg.

James Fisher-Harris of the Panthers is tackled by and Chris Smith.
James Fisher-Harris of the Panthers is tackled by and Chris Smith.

Technical with his power cleans and snatches, it's Smith's lower body movements producing the biggest numbers.

Hooker Victor Radley weighs 95kg and recorded a 130kg power clean, which was his PB.

While the 19-year-old isn't the biggest lifter in the squad, he admits to stop what he's doing to watch the big boys throw the tin.

"I'm pretty intrigued with that stuff. I like to watch," he said.

In the backline, it's Blake Ferguson who claims the bragging rights for strength.

"Fergo's not a bigger bloke but the power he has in his lower body is pretty crazy," co-captain Jake Friend said.


He's a veteran of the game and at 29, James Tamou is Penrith's biggest bench presser.

While the Panthers were unable to provide us with a number, the club said the 114kg forward recorded the highest number on the bench of their entire squad.


Based on the data at hand, it's impossible to definitively declare the strongest player in the league. But working off the known numbers and taking into account the muscles used to complete the specific lifts, we can make a judgment call.

Marty Taupau retains the bragging rights.

The Manly powerhouse may've been overtaken in the gym on multiple lifts but he's still recorded the biggest deadlift of any NRL player with 310kg.

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