Three potential stars of Rugby League World Cup 2013 were put through their paces by two big names from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) at Virgin Active in Salford Quays this week.
Scotland full-back Brett Carter, Wales forward Jordan James and Ireland forward Stuart Fielden joined UFC stars Ross Pearson and Mike Wilkinson for a joint training session, where the three international Rugby League stars completed an intense, five-minute UFC warm-up drill.
And Workington and Scotland star Carter admits he found the going tough.
“It was just a five-minute session, but it certainly felt longer than that,” he said.
“It’s intense, a very hard sport to be involved with and it definitely takes it out of you. I was still catching my breath for a while afterwards.
“I don’t think it’s for me, but a lot of the techniques are adaptable to Rugby League, and it’d certainly help you out if you were involved in it.
“The fighters dominate on the floor and get their head in tight, and I can relate to that as a Rugby League player.
“He showed me a few techniques about slowing your opponent down, and I think I might try a few of them out in future matches.”
Carter’s Welsh counterpart James was also left impressed by the levels of intensity demonstrated by UFC fighters Pearson and Wilkinson.
“You can see what these guys put themselves through and they are elite athletes just like us,” he said.
“We’d get sent off for striking but everybody knows there’s much more to UFC than that.
“They’re small guys but they know how to use their weight. They’re fast too and they’d probably run rings around me.
“UFC is also fought in weight categories so they have to be a certain weight to make the fights, whereas in Rugby League you want to be as big, strong and fast as you can be.
“But I definitely think the two sports can learn a lot from each other.”
James, Carter and Fielden then hosted a short Rugby League skills session, and demonstrated the techniques used to effect a tackle in a match situation.
“Before the session, I knew that some Rugby League clubs used MMA into their team training, but it was interesting to hear how much wrestling and conditioning is involved,” said Pearson, who says he will be backing England at Rugby League World Cup 2013.
“Brett, Jordan and Stuart were all pretty impressive, they picked up what we were showing them quickly, and it was good to show them just how tiring a five-minute round can be in UFC.
“Mike and I really enjoyed today’s session and it felt great being in Manchester and knowing that I’ll be here in a couple of months to co-headline UFC Manchester and fight in front of British fans.”