Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Solving the Blues #9 Conundrum (2017)


Since the morning after Origin 3 in 2016 it seems the media has been obsessing about who will be the hooker should be for the New South Wales side in 2017.

Robbie Farah is the incumbent rake, with plenty of statements at the start of the year from coach Laurie Daley that he’s inclined to stick with him. But naturally as the season has rolled on, plenty of others have put their hand up with strong claims of unseating Farah.

So with plenty of options on the table coupled with Daley softening his stance on Farah, what’s needed is some facts as opposed to the usual biased back and forth. This article is working entirely on statistical data obtained from the official NRL website and with a simple calculation based on ranking from best to worst in each field, I have been able to calculate who the most consistent and best candidate is to pull on the sky blue.

Naturally there will be arguments to be made that some statistical fields are more important than others, but the purpose of this exercise is to find the most complete and consistent player in all fields.

Added to the list of Blues candidates is Australian and Maroons hooker Cameron Smith, to show where the Blues options rank in comparison.

NSW Candidates
Robbie Farah (Souths and incumbent NSW Origin hooker)
Jayden Brailey (Cronulla)
Damian Cook (Souths)
Apisai Koroisau (Manly)
Michael Lichha (Canterbury)
Cameron McInnes (Souths)
Nathan Peats (Gold Coast)
Kaysa Pritchard (Parramatta)
Peter Wallace (Penrith)

Runs and metres
Cameron Smith averages 9 runs per game, which is vastly higher than all of the Blues. Cook and Koroisau both average 5.4, with Farah at 5.1. Naturally Smith has made more metres, averaging 57.4 per game, however Koroisau is not far behind, gaining 53.6 per game, which is impressive given he runs the ball considerably less. Michael Lichha has 4.4 runs for 48.9 metres per game, making him the only player averaging more than 10 metres per run. Metres per run is the only field where Cameron Smith is beaten by all the NSW Players.

Line and Tackle Breaks
Koroisau leads the field for line breaks, picking up 3 in his 10 games so far. McInnes has 2 from as many games. Smith, Lichaa, Farah and Peats have all yet to register a line break yet this year. Koroisau is also top of the class for tackle breaks, racking up 15 so far, one clear of McInnes and 6 in front of Smith.

Line Break and Try Assists
Despite playing just 4 games, Nathan Peats averages 0.75 Line break assists per game which is the best of the lot. Second is Smith and Farah, who both average 0.6 per game. Peats is also the best when it comes to try assists, averaging a neat 1 per game while Farah and McInnes are second with 0.5 per game. Smith comes next with 0.3.

Offloads
Cook is well clear of the field in this category, averaging 1.1 per game, while Farah, Pritchard and Wallace are all tied for second with 0.6 per game.

Defence
McInnes is the best tackler here, making more tackles and missing less than everybody else. He has made 437 and missed just 6, at a rate of 98.65%. Farah is next at 97.21% while Smith runs fourth at 96.21%

Discipline
Koroisau, Farah and Brailey are the least penalised players on average, giving away 0.4 penalties each per game. Smith averages 0.6. Ball handling is quite good amongst all, with everyone under 1 turnover per game. McInnes and Cook have had just 1 error each while Smith has had 5.

There are 12 fields all up and each field is converted to an average per game. The best in each field scores 1 point, second best gets 2 points etc. The player with the lowest total across all twelve ranks is deemed the best.

There is just three points difference between the top 5 players, which shows just how close this is.

Cameron Smith came out on top with 48 points.
Apisai Koroisau and Cameron McInnes were equal second on 49 points.
Robbie Farah and Damien Cook were next best, both tied on 51 points.
Michael Lichaa had 61, Kaysa Pritchard 73, Jayden Brailey and Peter Wallace were tied on 77 and Nathan Peats had 81 points

So a countback is required.

McInnes has ranked first in two fields and never ranked last, while Koroisau ranked first in three fields and last twice. McInnes therefore is more consistent and would thus be ranked as the Number 1 hooker for NSW.

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