In saying all this, the wins and points with preferred centres aren’t great either - we aren’t going to trouble anyone with 50% wins from first-choice teams.
BUT, I really noticed, quite badly, how many points we leaked when second-choice centres were defending. Not just as an analysis of defensive records, but watching teams punch holes in us during some games. At LO I sit in the Keith Barnes and it’s really apparent, from behind the posts, when centres make defensive errors against set plays. This was particularly evident in the Penrith and Titans games.
It’s not the old “oh Benji is a turnstile” or “Moses struggles 1:1”. It’s more that we carry some borderline-acceptable first-choice defenders already, and when you partner them with inexperienced (or slow) backups, the group as a whole does not stand up to repeated pressure.
In other words, having Brooks or Moses flanked by Milone or Sarge is a recipe for disaster.
I haven’t the spare time just now, but I’d love to see analysis on the try-scoring channels that teams favoured against us in 2015. I did a review after the Penrith game, and every backline move was focused on the gap between half and centre, in an effort to either get the fullback through or draw the opposition winger in for a cut-out.
Nofo is another bloke who makes poor defensive reads, he really needs to work on that in 2016.