It’s no secret sporting stars have had a fascination with ink for a number of years now. But no other sport appears to showcase tattoo creativity like the National Rugby League. Players have permanently adorned their bodies with every design from numbers and faces to ‘words of wisdom’ and even angel wings. So what have the fans been saying about it all? Let’s find out…

We’ve gone straight to the source of much of the chatter, Twitter, along with Instagram and Facebook, to find out what has been striking – or not striking – a chord with fans about the tatts on particular players. But whether you like what the players have done, or you can’t get your head around it, one thing is for sure: the ink speaks volumes about our league stars’ personalities.

JOSH DUGAN, St. George Illawarra Dragons

Josh has gone all out branding himself with family portraits, tributes and ‘inspirational’ quotes including ‘Such Is Life’. On his back you’ll find a giant tiger and eagle, plus a whacky tabaccy leaf or two thrown in for good measure.

Perhaps the most controversial of Josh’s tatts is the word ‘MISPAH’ written across his collarbone. Some say it’s misspelt and should read ‘MIZPAH’, a Hebrew word which, in Victorian times, was apparently used colloquially to mean a bond between two people.

Josh Dugan back tattoos

Josh Dugan fans Dugan tattoos 3 Dugan tattoos 4 Dugan tattoos

JOHNATHAN THURSTON, North Queensland Cowboys

Johnathan has been casually adding to his tatt repertoire over the years. The angel wings on his back (see above, Dave Hunt: AAP) have been a major social media talking point, however we at Sydney Sport think he looks quite heavenly – much better than John Travolta ever did as an archangel in the film Michael.

It’s also kinda sweet that he has his daughter’s name on his arm among angels and roses… His player numbers didn’t miss a mention either.

Johnathan Thurston tattoo arm

Jonathan Thurston fans on wings

Thurston rugby league ball tattoo

thurston wings

thurston wings


It’s a little hard to tell where the tattoos start and finish on Shaun. They include a Maori moko on his right shoulder, an Irish clover on his left bicep and Scottish thistle on the right – multicultural, for sure!

Kenny-Dowall tatts

Kenny-Dowall tattoo 2 Kenny-Dowall tattoo

CHRIS MCQUEEN, Gold Coast Titans

Chris is another one of those players who has a bit of everything splashed over his body. A rose with a crown? Tick. A player number? Tick. Harry Potter symbol? Sure, why not?

‘It’s the Deathly Hallows symbol,’ he says. ‘Me and my two best friends from home (Brisbane) all got matching tattoos. I am a Harry Potter fan as well as a gamer. I guess getting the tattoo confirms I am a nerd.’

Chris had his Sydney Rabbitohs first grade player number – No.1070 – tattooed down one side of his neck. Not long afterwards, the Rabbitohs sent him hopping across the Queensland border, but he still wears it with pride.

McQueen tatts

McQueen tattoo on neck

Chris McQueen neck tatt

Chris McQueen tattoo Harry Potter

SANDOR EARL, former Canberra Raiders

This guy’s sense of fun is showcased all over his body, right down to a wristwatch tattoo telling him it’s ‘Party Time’. Unfortunately, it’s all that partying that has caused him to be a bit of a ‘dope’ and he’s now suffering a four-year NRL suspension. Oh well, at least Huawei Australia had time to get its money’s worth of promo by having its logo temporarily tattooed on Sandor’s thigh…

Sandor Earl

Sandor Earl tattoo Sandor Eart fan on tattoos

Sandor tatts

TRENT HODKINSON, Newcastle Knights

We think Trent has one of the more ‘prettier’ tattoo works among the league players, featured across his buff chest. He got his sleeve when he was younger, but admits his more recent chest work is more meaningful. ‘I got the phoenix on my chest and that represents a new beginning when I was going through all the tough injuries,’ he says. ‘Rising from the ashes. A new start. A new beginning.’

Not that having his chest tattoo took away all the pain. ‘Around the nipples, that was torture!,’ he reveals. ‘And on the old sternum, that didn’t tickle either!’ Ouch!

trent hodkinson tattoos

hodkinson tattoo

trent hodkinson chest tattoo

JARROD SAMMUT, former Penrith Panthers

Someone should have told Jarrod to ‘think before you ink’ prior to insisting on his permanent ‘Justify Your Existence’ necklace. It took a whole two weeks before he realised that the tattooed ‘existance’ was supposed to read ‘existence’.

‘I had a little bit of a giggle about it, but there’s not much I can do now,’ Sammut says. ‘I picked out the style and the bloke wrote it down on the tracing pad. I had a quick look at it; I liked the type and shape and I was happy with it.’ Uh-oh.

jarrod sammut collarbone tattoo

Sammut tattoo 2 Sammut tattoo 3 Sammut tattoo

ADAM REYNOLDS, South Sydney Rabbitohs

Many fans ‘just don’t get’ Adam Reynolds’s tattoos. After all, they’re quite eclectic. Even Adam has had a change of heart about many of them since he has gotten older and has recently begun laster tattoo removal. It’s a painful, expensive and time-consuming process – which only reiterates the need for people to make sure they only get a tattoo after very careful consideration.

Perhaps Adam should have stuck with fake tattoos, like the Rabbitoh’s bunny he placed above his left eye as a stunt. It caused social media mayhem, but at least it was easily undone.

Adam Reynolds tattoo

Adam Reynolds rabbitoh on face

Watch Adam’s laser tatt removal in January 2016 – but only if you have a strong stomach!

What are your thoughts on league tattoos? Love ’em or loath ’em? And who has the best and worst of the bunch? Tell us in the comments section below…

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