No wonder the NSW brainstrust is having such a hard time finding a halves combination for Origin I, with statistics revealing the Blues’ playmaking options offer half as much as their Queensland counterparts.
Figures taken from the opening ten rounds of the NRL season show NSW halves candidates – James Maloney, Adam Reynolds, Mitchell Pearce, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson and Matt Moylan – have combined to set up just 30 tries so far in 2016.
In comparison Queensland’s in-form array of playmakers – Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Anthony Milford, Ben Hunt, Michael Morgan and Daly Cherry-Evans – have set up a total of 60 tries, owing to the fact that Brisbane, North Queensland and Melbourne are all firmly entrenched inside the top four.
And even when considering that Pearce, Moylan and Adam Reynolds’ struggles with suspension and injuries this year have slightly skewed the figures, the Maroons playmakers have set up 1.05 tries per match compared the Blues’ 0.68.
Those figures are the first of many that show NSW are at sixes and sevens when it comes to their playmaking options.
While Queensland’s halves are dominant close to the line, they can also be far more dangerous anywhere on the field.
They’ve set up a total of 49 linebreaks – or 0.86 per match – in comparison with the 18 NSW have set up at 0.41 per game, according to Fox Sports Stats.
Also concerning for NSW is that their only seemingly certain selection in the halves, James Maloney, who has played every game, but only Cherry-Evans has been less influential than him out of Queensland’s options.
Josh Reynolds is statistically the Blues’ best option, having set up eight tries and seven linebreaks, while Moylan has six and five respectively from his six matches.
For Queensland, Thurston has laid on 17 tries and 13 linebreaks, while Hunt has 13 and eight.
Such is Queensland’s plethora of options, the fact Milford – who has 11 try assists and 12 line-breaks assists – isn’t available for Origin selection hardly seems to matter.
Even the most unlikely Maroons candidates – seventh-choice option Moses Mbye – has nine tries and 10 linebreaks for Canterbury.
HOW THE HALVES SHAPE UP
Johnathan Thurston (10 games) – TA: 17, LBA: 13
Cooper Cronk (10 games) – TA: 9, LBA: 4
Anthony Milford (10 games) – TA: 11, LBA: 12
Ben Hunt (10 games) – TA: 13, LBA: 8
Michael Morgan (10 games) – TA: 7, LBA: 8
Daly Cherry-Evans (7 games) – TA: 3, LBA: 2
Total (57 games) – TA: 60, LBA: 49
James Maloney (10 games) – TA: 6, LBA: 4
Adam Reynolds (5 games) – TA: 6, LBA: 1
Josh Reynolds (10 games) – TA: 8, LBA: 7
Trent Hodkinson (9 games) – TA: 3, LBA: 1
Mitchell Pearce (2 games) – TA: 1, LBA: 0
Matt Moylan (6 games) – TA: 6, LBA: 5
Total (44 games) – TA: 30, LBA: 18
*TA = Try Assist, LBA = Linebreak Assist.
(Source: Fox Sports Stats)