Stats Insider: Are you team's wingers up to scratch?

Wingers are just guys who hang around footballers, right? Not a chance – as two thirds of ant team’s ‘back three’, wingers today are extremely important to the make-up of an NRL side. <br><br>Together with your side’s fullback, this trio are responsible for kick-starting each set of six with kick-returns and dummy-half runs – and then they are expected to finish off tries when they present themselves. <br><br>Some sides have wingers who act as extra forwards; the likes of Warrior Manu Vatuvei and Knight Akuila Uate fit into this category.<br>&nbsp;<br>Others have speedsters whose turn of pace and agility provide the tackle and line-breaks – think Dragon Brett Morris and Rabbitoh Nathan Merritt. <br><br>When it comes to fullbacks there are ball-players like Rooster Todd Carney and ball runners like Melbourne’s Billy Slater – although the best can do both, and do them well.<br>&nbsp;<br>When your back three does well, invariably the side can feed off it. The forwards can start on the front foot and a good side can take advantage. So which club’s back three has outperformed the rest over the first five rounds? <br><br>Exclusive NRL Stats data reveals the Wests Tigers’ back three are averaging the most metres gained, the Warriors’ back three are the most prolific line-breakers, while the Dragons’ back three score the most tries. <br><br>The numbers also indicate the Wests Tigers’, Dragons’, Roosters’, Broncos’ and Sea Eagles’ back three set up the most tries, while the Roosters’ trio breaks more tackles than any other side. <br><br>Elsewhere, the Titans’ back three have been the safest, making the fewest errors per match.<br>&nbsp;<br>Plenty of the Wests Tigers’ current success can be attributed to the prolific metres being carved out by their back three. In their opening five matches Tim Sheens’ men have averaged 402.6 metres coming from these three players, which is helping the side average more metres gained across the board than all other sides. <br><br>Newcastle’s big-unit wingers Uate and Cooper Vuna have helped the Knights average the second most metres so far in 2010 with 355.8, while the Dragons’ triumvirate isn’t far behind with 352.6 metres a game.<br><br>The Roosters’ back three are pushing out 350.2 metres a match, while the Eels’ threesome is pulling their weight in terms of hit-ups with 339.8 metres a match. <br><br>Perhaps not surprising given Brett Stewart’s absence, Manly are at the other end of the scale, ranked last with just 246.2 metres a match being earned by their wingers and fullback, while the Sharks (249 metres), Storm (257.2 metres), Panthers (270.8 metres) and Broncos (272.8 metres) are also struggling in this category. <br><br>When it comes to line-breaks the Warriors’ push into sixth spot on the competition ladder has been helped by a back three averaging 2.2 line-breaks a match to lead the NRL. Once again the Dragons’ and Roosters’ trios have been prolific, averaging two line-breaks a match, with the Knights and Rabbitohs slightly less damaging with 1.8 a match. <br><br>Penrith’s back three is once again at the lower end of the spectrum – this time last with just 0.6 line-breaks a game. The Sharks, Broncos and Cowboys all struggle to penetrate also with just 0.8 breaks each week. <br><br>It’s one thing to break the line, but it’s another thing to cross the stripe – and in this category, the Dragons reign supreme thanks generally to Morris and his uncanny knack to find four-pointers.<br><br>St George Illawarra’s back three of Morris, Jason Nightingale and Darius Boyd come together for 2.2 tries a game to lead the statistic convincingly. The Warriors come in next with 1.8 tries a game, followed by the Rabbitohs (1.6) and Knights (1.4). <br><br>Queensland teams Brisbane and North Queensland really need more finishing from their back three; they average just 0.4 tries a game at this stage, while the Raiders are the only other side to be below a try a game with just 0.8 coming form their back three. <br><br>If you can’t score them, how about setting them up? The back three of the Wests Tigers, Dragons, Roosters, Broncos and Sea Eagles all average one try assist a match to lead the way – while the Raiders’, Titans’ and Sharks’ trios have yet to record a single try assist all season!<br><br>Busting through tackles buys valuable time and metres when running the football back early in a set of six, and with 14.4 a match attributed to their back three the Roosters lead the way here. The Dragons are right on their heels with 14.2 tackle busts a match, with the Warriors next at 13.2. <br><br>However, the Cowboys (7.2), Broncos (7.4) and Panthers (7.4) are currently struggling to bruise a grape!<br><br>Last but surely not least, it is the Gold Coast boys who are making the fewest errors as a unit. Just two errors a match can be linked to their back three, ahead of the Dragons, Cowboys and Storm (all 2.6).<br><br>Meanwhile the Raiders commit a dismal 4.2 errors a match to be the worst in the NRL while the Roosters’ back three undo some of their good work by averaging four errors a match. Cronulla also busts out four errors a game. &nbsp;<br><br>As you can see, if today’s winger wants to hang out with a bunch of footballers, he better be the real deal – or a premiership ring will just be a dream!<br><link rel="File-List" href="file:///C:%5CDOCUME%7E1%5Cd362554%5CLOCALS%7E1%5CTemp%5Cmsohtml1%5C02%5Cclip_filelist.xml"><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><style> <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1073741899 0 0 159 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:EN-US; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} @page Section1 {size:612.0pt 792.0pt; margin:72.0pt 90.0pt 72.0pt 90.0pt; mso-header-margin:36.0pt; mso-footer-margin:36.0pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> </style><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> <span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;" lang="EN-US"><font size="2"></font></span>