It’s fair to say that it’s easy for a half-back to get lost in the shuffle these days in Super League.
George Williams, Luke Gale, Danny McGuire, Albert Kelly.. you could go on and on with the list of top-class halves currently plying their trade in the competition.
But if this is to be the year Salford buck the trend and actually win a piece of major silverware, their very own little general will have gone a long way towards determining that fate.
This week’s analysis blog looks at Robert Lui, the Salford stand-off who, it’s fair to say, made many Red Devils fans’ week when he agreed a new long-term contract with the club. Here’s how he stacks up against his competition – and why he’s become one of the competition’s best assets – and best players to watch.
The list of top-class halves runs pretty extensively these days: but only one has managed to set up more tries than the enigmatic Lui in 2017 – and that’s Wigan and England star George Williams. Lui is creating almost a try a game on average, with his 18 assists only bettered by Williams’ 24.
Lui is making far more yardage in attack than his fellow star halves, too. He’s already run 1,641 metres so far this season – with Williams the next nearest to him among the bracket of elite Super League half-backs.
In fact, he and Williams are streets ahead of the other half-backs in a number of key areas. Tackle busts (Williams has 61, Lui is just behind on 58), carries (they both carried the ball over 230 times, an impressive tally for a half), and many more.
It’ll probably come as no surprise that Lui is one of the leaders at his own club for clean breaks too. Only Greg Johnson (19) has made more than Lui so far in a Red Devils shirt.
Most of the focus for half-backs is about what they do with ball in hand: but a glimpse at Lui’s defensive stats this season show just how important he’s been to the Red Devils in the other aspect of the game, too.
No back has made more tackles at Salford than Lui – with his 392 so far this year even higher than the tallies of big men such as Ben Murdoch-Masila! The same applies for his work at marker too, with Lui the leading back among Ian Watson’s contingent for work done around the ruck.
Traditionally, it’s been the forwards who do the brunt of the work in defence – but Lui’s efforts in that particular aspect illustrate just how good a player he is in all areas of the field.