International season looms and as such it’s time to start having a look at the contenders for the Green and Gold jerseys. First up – halfback.
Now offhand you might question this as a choice. Australia and the
Western Force Reds have maybe the world’s best number 9′s in the form of Will Genia, and his erstwhile rival for halfback is now listening to his Tracy Chapman mixed tapes while sipping Rose in Toulouse.
But that would be to deny the stunning season Nic White of the Brumbies has been having. He’s been looking the goods, but what do the numbers say?
Well, they tell you your eyes haven’t been deceiving you. No stats I have will tell you how crisp and accurate scrummie’s pass is – no doubt his prime function (and for which Bob Dwyer gives Nic great wraps). But there are a range of other indicators that show White’s worth, including:
- At 41m per game (which I measure per 80minutes played) he makes the most running metres of any Australian 9, and more than double the number of Will Genia (20m)
- He makes almost triple the number of offloads of any other Aussie 9, almost double the number of line-breaks and is equal 6th in the comp overall for try assists
- With a tackle completion rate of 81%, he is substantially ahead of his peers, with McKibben at 75% and Genia at 69%
What I find most interesting is his tactical kicking though. At first glance you might think that with 2148 kick metres in comp, Will Genia is king with the boot. But this would ignore Genia playing almost 4 whole more matches than White in terms of game time. When you factor this in, you see just how Nic is becoming Jake White’s Aussie Fourie du Preez.
Nic kicks on average 309 metres per game, almost a full length of the field ahead of Genia. The rest are no-where in comparison. With the highest number of metres per kick out of any of the scrummies, you get some sense of his prodigious boot. This distance will be tempered though with what I believe is the best box-kick in Australia – excellent hang time and the accuracy to consistently drop 3 meters outside of the opposition’s 22 (perhaps a video some other time).
You can see all the stats in the table at the bottom, but a couple not captured there are two others:
- Will Genia leads the comp in line-break assists, with 9 overall. An indication of his generalship over the Reds back line this year? Brett Sheehan is third.
- Brendan McKibben is third in the whole comp for place kick success rate, at 89%. A pretty handy skill to have (thanks to Rucking Good Stats for this)
But there you have it. Will Robbie ignore the beard Jake White couldn’t and give Nic a run? Or will Sanchez re-establish his class?
Who’s your Wallaby 9?
|Player||Nic White||Brendan McKibben||Brett Sheehan||Will Genia||Nick Phipps|
|# of 80 MINS||5.8||5.3||8.0||10.1||7.1|
|metres / kick||36||32||27||31||23|
|Runs Open No.||1.4||0.4||0.9||0.8||0.7|
|Runs Tight No.||0.5||0.4||0.0||0.5||0.4|
|Scrum Half Run No.||3.6||3.2||3.6||1.9||1.7|
|Scrum Half Run (m)||12.3||22.6||14.2||8.9||6.1|
|Tackles completion (%)||81%||75%||65%||69%||66%|
|T/O yielded Gen. Play||0.5||0.2||0.9||1.2||0.8|
|T/O yielded Ruck/Maul||0.9||0.2||0.2||0.8||0.4|
Player stats courtesy of RugbyStats