January 2022

The Challenge Of Playing Utility

Utilities are back in vogue in the NRL. But what's it like to play in a position that covers every position?

A utility coming off the bench and diving into the action was once a mainstay of NRL line-ups. 

Coaches would look to these players to help break a game open, or maybe turn the tide of the match if they were behind.

Most of the time, the likes of PJ Marsh and Craig Wing were asked to replace the starting hooker, before hanging around and drifting across the pitch.

Their backgrounds in the halves meant they could act as effective ball-players both in the middle or on the edge.

Covering multiple positions has always been an important consideration for coaches selecting their top 17, and these days their concussion substitute.

Versatility

Newcastle Knights legend Kurt Gidley made a career on his versatility, despite coming through the grades as a fullback and half.

“As a youngster I pretty much played five-eighth most of my junior days, but then as I got to the Knights in under 17s, I kind of broke into my first ever Knights team as a utility off the bench, but then pretty quickly made my way to fullback there,” he remembers.

Utilities are back in vogue in the NRL. But what's it like to play in a position that covers every position . . .

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