The thirteen players on a rugby league team play in nine different positions:
- two props
- one hooker
- two second rows
- one halfback
- one five-eighth
- two centres
- two wingers
- one fullback
This article gives a summary of each position in rugby leagues and links out to detailed articles if you want a deep dive.
League Position Diagram
Scrums are less common and important than they used to be in league. But the forward positions took their names from how they line up in a scrum. So, it’s useful to look at the player layout in that context.
This diagram shows the rugby league positions during a scrum.
The two props are traditionally the heaviest players on the team. Their role in attack is to make strong direct runs at the defensive line.
Check out our article on props in rugby league for an in-depth description.
The hooker has a very specific role in rugby league scrums. When the ball is fed into the scrum, the hooker must scoop the ball backward with their foot.
That’s why they are called hookers (they “hook” the ball).
There aren’t many scrums in a league game, and hookers have another important role. They often act as the dummy half by picking up the ball after a teammate has played it back after a tackle.
You can read more in our in-depth look at hookers in rugby league.
Second rows get their name from their position behind the front row in the scrum. Along with the two props, second rows are typically amongst the bigger players on the team.
However, they are expected to be more mobile around the field than the props. They are also two of the primary tacklers in defense.
You can read more in our article on second rows in rugby league.
The lock forward is also called the loose forward. As the latter name suggests, they are expected to be the most dynamic and mobile forward.
They are involved more in open play by taking wide passes and distributing the ball themselves. In other words, they play more “in the loose”.
Check out our article on lock forwards in rugby league.
The halfback is the primary playmaker on a league team. This means that they organize the attacking play. Whether they choose to run, pass, or kick the ball determines how play unfolds.
If you’re curious how they got their name, there’s a full explanation in our in-depth look at halfbacks in rugby league.
The five-eighth joins the halfback as another playmaker who also initiates and directs the attacking play.
The five-eighth is more likely to run with the ball and is often the primary kicker.
The name of the position may seem a little odd. I explain it in full in our article on the role of the five-eighth in rugby league.
There are two centres on a league team. They are the link between the playmakers (the halfback and the five-eighth) and the wingers on the edges of the field.
As well as taking the ball hard to the line, they chase kicks both in offense and in defense.
Read more in our article on centres in rugby league.
There are two wingers on a league team. They traditionally hug the wings to receive the last pass of a scoring play.
By staying out wide, they stretch the defensive line. This makes gaps for the centres to exploit.
Read more about their role in attack and defense in our article on wingers in rugby league.
There is one fullback on a rugby league team. They typically are in the deepest position on the field. Because they see the full picture of play, they are a crucial part of organizing the defense.
They also take responsibility for catching long high kicks (known as bombs) that are falling toward their try line.
Read more in our in-depth look at fullbacks in rugby league.
Rugby League Numbers FAQ
What position is number 1 in rugby league?
The fullback wears the number 1 jersey.
What position is number 2 in rugby league?
The right winger wears the number 2 jersey.
What position is number 3 in rugby league?
The right centre wears the number 3 jersey.
What position is number 4 in rugby league?
The left centre wears the number 4 jersey.
What position is number 5 in rugby league?
The left winger wears the number 5 jersey.
What position is number 6 in rugby league?
The five-eighth wears the number 6 jersey.
What position is number 7 in rugby league?
The halfback wears the number 7 jersey.
What position is number 8 in rugby league?
The tighthead prop on the right of the scrum wears the number 8 jersey.
What position is number 9 in rugby league?
The hooker wears the number 9 jersey.
What position is number 10 in rugby league?
The loosehead prop on the left of the scrum wears the number 8 jersey.
What position is number 11 in rugby league?
The second row on the left of the scrum wears the number 11 jersey.
What position is number 12 in rugby league?
The second row on the right of the scrum wears the number 11 jersey.
What position is number 13 in rugby league?
The lock forward wears the number 13 jersey.