Top of the Class

JAMIE BARWICK, of Opta Sportsdata, checks out the leading players in this season’s Super League competition, according to statistical analysis for the first 24 rounds of the competition.

Super League has thrown up plenty of excitement this season from Castleford’s last gasp 36-31 win over Wigan Warriors in round three to London Broncos, more recently, finally ending their 23-match losing sequence against a youthful Leeds Rhinos side. Three games remain in the current campaign with the thrills and spills of the Play-Offs ahead, but so far who has stood head and shoulders above the rest from a statistical point of view?

One of the brightest talents in Super League is that of 22-year-old Catalan Dragons full-back Morgan Escare. Whilst his career is still in its infancy he could well be plying his trade in the NRL if he continues his development curve. A no doubt Young Player of the Year nomination and likely winner, Escare has been a shining light in the South of France and he can back that up with some impressive statistics. Scoring 21 tries in 24 Super League games puts him third in the try scoring chart behind only Joel Monaghan and Tommy Makinson both scoring 24. The effervescent youngster has also turned provider with 13 assists to his name with only one more full-back ahead of him in Rhys Hanbury (15) of Widnes Vikings. The Catalonian needs to add a mere four clean breaks to his total of 20 to equal the top position but heads the tackles bust chart with an impressive 96. These stats reaffirm the pundits’ predictions about the talent the player possesses all the more so when you consider that Catalan have hardly set the world alight in the league sitting in 7th position.

The primary job for a winger or centre is to score tries fact, in which case if you are just looking at that stat Monaghan and Makinson are the two best wingers in Super League. However, if you take all round play; tackles bust, metres gained, clean breaks etc all of which are crucial to a successful outside back the end result might surprise a few. For all round play, Challenge Cup winner Kallum Watkins leads the way followed by Justin Carney of Castleford Tigers. Watkins, 23 has attributed to an outside back high of 15 try assists with the nearest rival Monaghan notching only six. The youngster has also topped the offloads (30) and made 377 tackles whist being second, to in the clean breaks (21) to Joe Wardle and one has one less tackles bust than leader Carney (81) and stands third in the carries (281) and metres made (2395) standings.

Would you believe me if I told you based on the numbers that Rangi Chase was the best half-back in the competition? No me neither but it turns out to be true. Take away the team results and just focus on the individual performances of the player and Chase does in fact come out on top. Just. The former Cas man is joint-top amongst the halves with Marc Sneyd tied on six tries but is nine behind him in terms of try assists (20). Chase has made 317 carries and double more than anyone in terms of clean breaks standing at 18. Departing Hull KR stand-off Travis Burns has made 35 offloads but Chase is right behind him with 32. Also take note that Chase has featured in the least amount of games at 20 games for the Red Devils whilst Burns for example has played 24 times.

Vying for top hooker in the league are four candidates; James Roby, Josh Hodgson, Daryl Clark and Danny Houghton who all bring different qualities to their respective teams. Sadly the standout performer will no longer by playing in Super League next season with Penrith Panthers poaching Hull Kingston Rovers’ Josh Hodgson to the NRL. Just rewards for the player himself but a loss to Rovers who are left to fill the void left by the departing hooker. The 24-year-old has come on leaps and bounds since his cross-city switch from Hull FC to Rovers and this season he has topped a number of hooking charts. Comparatively between the four, Hodgson leads the tries (11), clean breaks (17), offloads (26), metres made (2625), and tackles bust (63) charts.

Rolling back the years 36-year-old Jamie Peacock is again one of the standout forwards in the competition despite playing only 18 games. The statistics back up how much of a colossal figure the prop is to Leeds. Peacock is joined by some not too shabby competition in Huddersfield’s Eorl Crabtree, Hull’s Joe Westerman, Catalans’ Zeb Taia and Warrington Wolves’ Chris Hill. Having played at least five less games than his competitors, Peacock has still managed to amass a chart topping 458 carries, 45 offloads, 2900 meters, 666 tackles and 167 marker tackles.