The aim of this study was to determine whether the physiological characteristics of players influence selection in a semi-professional first grade rugby league team. Sixty-six semi-professional rugby league players aged 24+/-4 years (mean +/- s) were monitored over two competitive seasons. The players underwent measurements of body mass, muscular power (vertical jump), speed (10, 20, 30 and 40 m sprint), agility (Illinois agility run) and estimated maximal aerobic power (multi-stage fitness test) 1 week before their first competition match. After selection for either the first or second grade team, the results of all physiological tests were collated and analysed to determine if there were any physiological differences between players selected for the two teams. Players selected to play in the first grade team were significantly (P< 0.05) older (25+/-4 vs 22+/-4 years) and heavier (93+/-10 vs 86+/-10 kg) and had more playing experience (18+/-6 vs 15+/-6 years) than second grade players. Muscular power, speed, agility and estimated maximal aerobic power were not significantly different (P > 0.05) between first grade and second grade players. These results suggest that the physiological capacities of players do not influence selection in a semi-professional first grade rugby league team. Rather, player selection appears to be based on body mass, playing experience and skill. These results support the need for a standardized skills performance test for semi-professional rugby league players.