Stats Insider: The toughest men to tackle

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Stats Insider: The toughest men to tackle

Benjamin Everill NRL.com Tue, 21 Jul 2009 11:27:00

From the dawn of rugby league one of the classic questions thrown at elite players has been: Who is the hardest player to tackle?

In recent years the likes of Petero Civoniceva and Tonie Carroll would be served up as common answers due to their rock-hard physiques and hard-running styles. The likes of Matt Bowen would also feature due to his ability to turn on a coin and accelerate and sidestep quicker than a politician in the midst of a scandal.

These three great stars are still involved in the NRL and are still extremely tough to bring down – but, according to exclusive statistics, they do not fall into the competition’s top 10 when it comes to tackle-breaks – which remain the perfect measure of just how hard it can be to bring a man down.

It would come as no surprise to many league fans to see Wests Tigers behemoth winger Taniela Tuiaki as the player leading the way in the category so far in 2009\. This man-mountain of pure size, strength, speed and skill would be hard enough to bring down as a front-rower running into the teeth of the defence, so what chance do opposition wingers have when he comes at them one-on-one?

According to his official NRL bio Tuiaki tips the scales at 105 kilograms and is 183 centimetres tall – but those who try to tackle the big man swear he’s closer to 120 kilos!

Having missed the early season Test match against the Kangaroos after the Kiwis stayed loyal to their World Cup squad, Tongan-born Tuiaki – with a whopping 96 tackle-breaks to his name – wants nothing more than to find his way into the New Zealand squad for the end-of-year tour to Great Britain and France.

Imagine the Kiwis having Tuiaki on one wing and Manu Vatuvei on the other… ouch!

Only two tackle-breaks behind is fellow Kiwi and the man keeping Tuiaki out of a Test jumper, Roosters fullback Sam Perrett. He might be much smaller than the Tigers’ flanker at just 92 kilograms but Perrett has the heart of a lion and the agility of a cheetah. He takes countless runs from dummy-half as well as making good ground from kick returns and is rarely brought down by the first defender.

Rounding out the top three is Test, New South Wales and Sea Eagles pocket rocket Anthony Watmough.

Watmough has 93 tackle-breaks to be clearly the hardest forward to bring down in the competition, with the next best non-back being Newcastle’s Zeb Taia who with 60 tackle-breaks is ranked equal 18th in the NRL.

Manly back-rower Watmough has a low centre of gravity and his hip shape is perfect for bumping off defenders. When you add his speed to the mix and some great strength it’s no wonder he is so difficult to topple.

St George Illawarra fullback Darius Boyd is next on the list (85 tackle-breaks) and while it comes as no surprise to those in his corner, the truth is you’d never pick Boyd out of a line-up if you were clueless to his talents. With all due respect to the Australian and Queensland winger, Boyd doesn’t look like the type of player who would burst right through you and even watching him run you don’t get the air of anticipation you might get with a Tuiaki- or Bowen-type player. But somehow Boyd does beat the first man over and over again. His subtle footwork and hidden strength make him one of the buys of the season.

Parramatta superstar Jarryd Hayne comes in fifth at the present time with 84 tackle-breaks, ahead of Billy Slater (80), Wade McKinnon (78), Brett Morris (72), Kurt Gidley (69) and Luke Patten (69).

The list is obviously littered with fullbacks, as these players get a chance to run at a staggered line and pinpoint who they’ll run at but you still have to be good enough to break on through.

A glance at the top tackle-breakers by position (see below) reveals a big surprise with the inclusion of young Sharks prop Kade Snowden leading the front-rowers. Snowden has always been a player of promise and it appears he is starting to fulfil it as his opponents struggle to pull his strong frame down. He leads from Eels cult hero Fuifui Moimoi and Rabbitohs’ skipper Roy Asotasi.

Young Raiders centre Jarrod Croker also deserves special mention for being the second most prolific centre in his rookie year, only fractionally behind Greg Inglis.

Tackle-Breaks Top 10

1\. Taniela Tuiaki (Wests Tigers) 96; 2\. Sam Perrett (Roosters) 94; 3\. Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles) 93; 4\. Darius Boyd (Dragons) 85; 5\. Jarryd Hayne (Eels) 84; 6\. Billy Slater (Storm) 80; 7\. Wade McKinnon (Warriors) 78; 8\. Brett Morris (Dragons) 72; =9\. Kurt Gidley (Knights) 69; =9\. Luke Patten (Bulldogs) 69.

Best Three In Each Position

Fullback: Sam Perrett (Roosters) 94, Darius Boyd (Dragons) 85, Jarryd Hayne (Eels) 84.

Wing: Taniela Tuiaki (Wests Tigers) 96, Brett Morris (Dragons) 72, Blake Ferguson (Sharks) 66.

Centre: Greg Inglis (Storm) 68, Jarrod Croker (Raiders) 66, Michael Jennings (Panthers) 60.

Five-eighth: Lance Hohaia (Warriors) 68, Ben Roberts (Bulldogs) 53), Jamie Soward (Dragons) 49.

Halfback: Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys) 46, Tim Moltzen (Wests Tigers) 44, Ben Hornby (Dragons) 41.

Prop: Kade Snowden (Sharks) 42, Fuifui Moimoi (Eels) 37, Roy Asotasi (Rabbitohs) 34.

Hooker: Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers) 55, Paul Aiton (Panthers) 49, Ian Henderson (Warriors) 35.

Second row: Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles) 93, Zeb Taia (Knights) 60, Bronson Harrison (Raiders) 50.

Lock: Corey Parker (Broncos) 58, Glenn Stewart (Sea Eagles) 46, Luke Lewis (Panthers) 35.

Your Team’s Top Tackle-Buster

Broncos: Corey Parker 58 (=24th in NRL); Bulldogs: Luke Patten 69 (=9th in NRL); Cowboys: Matt Bowen 59 (=22nd in NRL); Dragons: Darius Boyd 85 (4th in NRL); Eels: Jarryd Hayne 84 (5th in NRL); Knights: Kurt Gidley 69 (=9th in NRL); Panthers: Michael Jennings 60 (=18th in NRL); Rabbitohs: Nathan Merritt 51 (32nd in NRL); Raiders: Jarrod Croker 66 (=13th in NRL); Roosters: Sam Perrett 94 (2nd in NRL); Sea Eagles: Anthony Watmough 93 (3rd in NRL); Sharks: Blake Ferguson 66 (=13th in NRL); Storm: Billy Slater 80 (6th in NRL); Titans: Preston Campbell 64 (16th in NRL); Warriors: Wade McKinnon 78 (7th in NRL); Wests Tigers: Taniela Tuiaki 96 (1st in NRL).
 
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No surprise to see Tuiaki leading the way with tackle breaks this season. He has been by far and away the most dangerous of the Tigers backs and is having a cracker of a season. Also good to see Moltzen and Farah breaking a few tackles. Benji wouldn't be far behind them either.
 

Peaches

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Stats used to prove a point here. Tuiaki is having his best year and hopefully it continues. In his current form, he would easily make the Kiwi side.
 

Centaur

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Tuiaki is in great form. He occassionally takes a soft run, but I suppose you got to conserve energy every now and then.
 

Juro

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After getting bumped from the kiwi side earlier this year, he seems to really have focused, which has been great for us. He is showing the form this year that we all knew he had the potential for. Just hope he can continue like this over the next few years!
 

diedpretty

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I like the way Tuiaki is beginning to mature as a player - his run across field to link up with Marshall that ended in Lawrences try was no fluke - once he turned infield you could see that he realised the numbers were on the other side - a smart play and one i don't think he would have deliberately made a year ago.
 
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Impressive stat for Tuiaki, he is a human wrecking ball

Thought it would be interesting to see the total number of carries needed to get the tackle breaks and this still has Tuiaki on top of the heap

Tuiaki 96 tackle breaks in 230 carries
Perrett 94 tackle breaks in 266 carries
Watmough 93 tackle breaks in 228 carries

Moltzen's 44 tackle breaks came in only 120 carries which is also impressive
 

Mick

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@willow said:
Benji wouldn't be far behind them either.

I think he's missing from that list because they have to lay a hand on you to be considered busted.

Benji is untouchable.
 

simonthetiger

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Hasnt TNT improved this year!!!!!

HIs positional play is much better,bombs have improved and now he is starting to link up with other players.

Not forgetting he is nigh on impossible to strop with a head of steam up.

Real crowd fave too…...when he gets the ball the crowd rises as one.
 

Geo

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@simonthetiger said:
Hasnt TNT improved this year!!!!!

HIs positional play is much better,bombs have improved and now he is starting to link up with other players.

Not forgetting he is nigh on impossible to strop with a head of steam up.

Real crowd fave too…...when he gets the ball the crowd rises as one.

He has taken it to another level that's for sure….

The huge change I've noticed is his realisation that he is a beast...... when he runs the ball straight and hard.....he is a terror machine...

Thankyou Shellharbour....
 

Mick

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The Cows kept kicking it to him and he was refusing to return it, kept passing to Gallant, not sure what was happening there, maybe he was trying to stick to the usual plan where he comes in for the second play and has a run, seemed he could have milked more metres just going himself though.
 
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@Geo. said:
@simonthetiger said:
Hasnt TNT improved this year!!!!!

HIs positional play is much better,bombs have improved and now he is starting to link up with other players.

Not forgetting he is nigh on impossible to strop with a head of steam up.

Real crowd fave too…...when he gets the ball the crowd rises as one.

He has taken it to another level that's for sure….

The huge change I've noticed is his realisation that he is a beast...... when he runs the ball straight and hard.....he is a terror machine...

Thankyou Shellharbour....

Ahh the memories…I reckon most of the Shellharbour side would have been excited to play the Tigers. I say most because without doubt the poor bloke given the potentially life threatening task of marking Tuiaki would have been quietly praying before kickoff. You could see with his straight and hard running that he was in for a cracker of a season.
 

LARDS

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TNTs stats are a little misleading.
The majority of the tackle busts are against other wingers.
Up against forwards he , more often than not, gets driven back.
Thats why wing is his spot and should never be put in the forwards.
Having said that , he deserves his acollades this year, he has been playing very well.
I would like to see him run straight into the defence on kick returns (ala Harmichael) instead of always crabbing and looking to pass.
 

senexx

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I'm looking at the Stats for the Tigers 2009 and some of the top tacklers are surprising.

Farah 475
Morris 461
Ellis 435
Payten 423
Gibbs 391
Halatau 374
Heighington 362
Payne 263
Lawrence 238
Galea 236
Marshall 161
Galloway 146
Ayshford 143
Lawrence 110
Moltzen 108

The Rest under 100
 
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