Stat Attack: Viliame Kikau is king of the benchies
Panthers back-rower Viliame Kikau is officially the best player in the competition in terms of lifting his team when he comes off the bench.
Kikau has been named to start this weekend in his return from a knee injury; seven previous times this year he has started and played the 80 minutes or close to it while on seven other occasions he has joined the fray from the pine.
NRL.com Stats shows that in those six games Kikau came off the bench Penrith trail their opponents by 2.83 points per game for the time Kikau is off.
However during Kikau's time on field in those matches Penrith are 11.67 points per game better than their opponents, for a stunning differential of 14.50 points per game to the good for Kikau.
It was a trend Kikau started forming in convincing fashion right from round one, when his team conceded three early tries to the Eels before the rampaging left-edge forward came on and tore the Eels to shreds to help the Panthers to a comeback 24-14 win.
Applying a minimum of five games played off the bench and an accrued total of at least 200 minutes on-field in the Telstra Premiership this season, the next best player is currently-injured Cowboy John Asiata, with North Queensland slightly edging their opponents while he is on while being 7.14 points per game worse off in his time off-field.
Next is Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves with the Tricolours a handy 6.25 points per game to the good while he is on and struggling to a -1.00 deficit while he is off in those games where he has started from the interchange. His impact off the pine lends weight to coach Trent Robinson's decision to bench him eight times this year, although the Tricolours are currently on a four-match winning run with JWH in the run-on side.
Next comes Parramatta pair Kenny Edwards (since released) and David Gower, with the struggling Eels outscoring their opponents with either of those two on the field while conceding points on average while they are off.
The rest of the top 10 includes two more Roosters in hard-hitting, try-saving youngster Victor Radley and prop Zane Tetevano plus Knight Daniel Saifiti and Dragon Leeson Ah Mau.
If we remove the 200-minute cut-off, Manly prop Taniela Paseka (-2.00 while he is on and -12.00 when he is off, across 184 minutes) would come in second at a +10.00 differential and maligned Bulldogs forward Greg Eastwood (-0.50 when he is on and -8.33 when he is off across 131 minutes) earns a +7.83 differential to ensure he at least stops the bleeding while he is on.
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At the other end of the scale there are a few surprising names. According to this year's numbers Wests Tigers are far more productive while talented centre or back-rower Michael Chee-Kam is off the field (+5.60 per game) compared to on it (-4.50) with the former Sea Eagle currently nursing a -10.10 differential.
Next 'worst' is impressive Bunnies and Tonga prop Junior Tatola, with the rampaging Rabbitohs trailing by -1.00 per game with Tatola on and racking up +9.07 while he is off, leaving him with a surprising -10.07 differential.
Kenny Bromwich (-8.80) and Tatola's teammate Mark Nicholls (-8.00) also suffer from their respective teams racking up points while they are off the field. Manly's Lloyd Perrett (-7.75) and Titans pair Bryce Cartwright (-7.71) and Morgan Boyle (-7.57) are the only other players sitting at a differential worse than -6.