Se­cond-row­ers ain’t what they used to be

Rugby League Week - - News - By Ge­off Prenter, RLW Found­ing Edi­tor

IN 1988 WAYNE PEARCE WORE No.8 on his back, iden­ti­fy­ing him as Bal­main’s lock. In 1989 the same Wayne Pearce was read­ily iden­ti­fied by the num­ber 13 on his black and gold jumper. The num­ber switch came from the mouths of babes, the In­ter­na­tional Rugby League. They re­badged the for­wards with the front-row wear­ing jumpers eight, nine and 10. The se­cond row­ers, 11 and 12, and Wayne and his like got sad­dled with the Devil’s num­ber, 13.

Why? I still can’t find any­body who knows.

To­day the num­ber you wear doesn’t mean two hoots.

Eleven and 12 – what’s their role? Is it to play one or two off the ruck when in pos­ses­sion and make as much ground as pos­si­ble? And in de­fence, to smother the op­pos­ing halves?

No. Gone are those days of a struc­tured se­cond-rower. That’s why so many past star 11s and 12s would strug­gle for recog­ni­tion to­day.

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