Rugby League is the toughest sport there is says Stuart Pearce

Boxer Josh Warrington and football legend Stuart Pearce speak about being big rugby league fans at he launch of the 2019 Betfred Super League season at Old Trafford
Boxer Josh Warrington and football legend Stuart Pearce speak about being big rugby league fans at he launch of the 2019 Betfred Super League season at Old Trafford

The man known as 'Psycho' throughout his football career has described rugby league as the toughest sport in the world.

Former England captain Stuart Pearce, who acquired the nickname because of his physical approach to the game, joined world boxing champion Josh Warrington at the launch of the 2019 Betfred Super League season at Old Trafford on Thursday.

And the former Nottingham Forest man had no hesitation in describing rugby league as the most demanding, and honest, discipline of them all.

"If someone said to me 'what is the toughest profession to play?' I would say it's probably this one," Pearce said.

"You get smashed every week, technically you've got to be very good at it as well, right across the board you're recovering from car crashes.

"This gentleman (Warrington) plays a sport that is tough and rugby league is right up there with that - and probably jump jockeys, they're the three sports that make me think 'wow... I'm glad I was a footballer.

"I'll be at Chelsea tonight (who play Tottenham in the Carabao Cup) and within five minutes players will be diving on the floor... I see honesty in rugby league. Little things like that appeal. It's a genuine product."

Pearce, a fan of the Warrington Wolves who was introduced to the sport by ex-England coach Tony Smith, added: "Rugby League is one of the biggest secrets of this country.

"The players are physical specimens from a physicality point of view but they're also expected to use their feet as well as their hands and they're expected to think about the game.

"It's so multi-faceted really, what they're expected to do."

IBF world featherweight champion Warrington, a Leeds Rhinos fan who is a close friend of former England captain Jamie Peacock, said: "There's a lot of honesty, a lot of humility, it's physical and brutal.

"I'm not normally scared of any man but if some of these boys ran towards me I'd step aside. Rugby league is physical and brutal.

"It's exciting to watch, nothing beats watching a game live.

"How the boys go for 80 minutes, it's humbling, and they just carry on going week-in, week-out.

"There are probably a lot of people who haven't given it a chance but there's nothing to beat it."

Former Great Britain captain and coach Ellery Hanley was also a guest at the launch to announce a new format for the prestigious Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award.

Hanley, a three-time winner of the award, will chair a panel of 21 former players who will pick a one-two-three from each game throughout the season which will determine the winner in October.

The new season gets under way on January 31 when champions Wigan visit last year's league leaders St Helens.