Stats Insider: Are your team's kickers up to scratch?
Referees’ enforcement of the downtown rule has had an effect on the NRL’s kickers, with 13 of the 16 clubs averaging less kick metres a game compared to 2009 averages.<br><br>Disturbingly, the crackdown is yet to unleash the attacking brilliance from kick-returns as was initially hoped.<br><br>Latest NRL Stats figures see all but the Sea Eagles, Titans and Warriors averaging less kick metres a game than their 2009 numbers, as kickers are forced to stand a little flatter and kick with a little less time up their sleeves.<br><br>However, the skill of kickers has not declined at all; in fact the competition’s boot men are on average one percentage point more accurate with clearing kicks than they were in 2009.<br><br>And the chasers are still doing their jobs, with just 10 line-breaks coming from kick returns so far this season, down on average from 2009.<br><br>In 2009 there was a kick-return line-break every 0.62 games, while so far in 2010 the kick-return line-break figures represent a ratio of just every 0.42 games.<br><br>Of course, it is very early in the season, and fans have been treated to some fabulous long-range breaks and tries from kick-returns (the famous 108-metre break at Parramatta in Round 2 comes to mind) but a boost in excitement coming from the back just hasn’t materialised.<br><br>The Sharks, Bulldogs, Cowboys, Wests Tigers and Eels are having the biggest problems maintaining the kicking length they achieved last season, all of them 100 metres or more worse off than last season.<br><br>As the only team without a win this season, Cronulla can put some of the blame on a dismal 435 metres kicking average – down 161 metres from their 2009 average – while the Cowboys will have a very hard time making the finals when kicking for just 375 metres a match, down 123 metres from what was for them a below-par figure last season anyway.<br><br>Manly, despite losing main playmaker Matt Orford in the off-season, have managed to add an average 62 metres kicking a match in 2010, while the Titans are up 46 metres and the Warriors 36 metres.<br><br>But the Titans could fall into the negative very quickly now Scott Prince is out injured for an extended period. <br><br>As the main kicker for the Titans (averaging more than 500 metres kicking a match) his replacement will have mighty shoes to fill.<br><br>Some of the game’s biggest names and longest kickers are well down on last year. <br><br>Darren Lockyer has dropped 57 metres a match, Brett Kimmorley is down 56 metres, Jarrod Mullen is down 79 metres, Johnathan Thurston is down 82 metres, Daniel Mortimer has fallen 89 metres, Mitchell Pearce is down 102 metres and Benji Marshall is down a whopping 130 metres a game compared to last season.<br><br>Interesting enough, St George Illawarra five-eighth Jamie Soward, a main influence on the downtown rule focus, is averaging 15 more metres a match from the boot with a massive 547 metres a match.<br><br>In terms of kick accuracy, or finding space rather than opposition players with clearing kicks, the reigning premiers have had the biggest fall in average, just over 15 per cent less accurate in 2010.<br><br>Of course, plenty of this can be attributed to Cooper Cronk’s absence from the opening two rounds.<br><br>The Bulldogs, down 14 per cent, cannot use any such excuse.<br><br>The Warriors (down 12.9 per cent) and the Cowboys (down 11.9 per cent) are also heading the wrong way if they want to gain an edge on their opponents. <br><br>Elsewhere, the Panthers and the Rabbitohs have lifted their kick accuracy by more than 15 per cent, while the Roosters, with the inclusion of Todd Carney, have lifted their accuracy an impressive 20 per cent.<br><br><b>Kick Metres Trouble</b><br><b><br>Team 2009 avg 2010 avg Diff</b><br>Sharks 596 435 -161<br>Bulldogs 632 501 -131<br>Cowboys 498 375 -123<br>Tigers 587 467 -120<br>Eels 617 517 -100<br>Broncos 610 525 -85<br>Knights 569 486 -83<br>Rabbitohs 569 508 -61<br>Roosters 540 502 -38<br>Raiders 587 550 -37<br>Storm 657 627 -30<br>Panthers 493 471 -22<br>Dragons 709 695 -14<br>Warriors 563 599 +36<br>Titans 560 606 +46<br>Sea Eagles 552 614 +62<br><br><b>Kick Accuracy</b><br><b><br>Team 2009 avg 2010 avg Diff</b><br>Storm 60.1 44.8 -15.3<br>Bulldogs 60.2 46.2 -14<br>Warriors 55.8 42.9 -12.9<br>Cowboys 54.8 42.9 -11.9<br>Titans 56.8 51.9 -4.9<br>Dragons 52.8 48.6 -4.2<br>Eels 56.9 59.1 +2.2<br>Broncos 48.7 50 +2.3<br>Sharks 51.2 57.1 +5.9<br>Sea Eagles 56.4 63.3 +6.9<br>Knights 63 70 +7<br>Raiders 61.6 70.8 +9.2<br>Tigers 60.4 70 +9.6<br>Panthers 49.7 65 +15.3<br>Rabbitohs 52.6 68.4 +15.8<br>Roosters 56.8 77.3 +20.5<br>