Stat Attack: Is Martin best goal-kicker in NRL era?
Canterbury sharpshooter Rhyse Martin's stunning goal-kicking accuracy this season has propelled him to the top of the charts for the most accurate goal-kickers the NRL has seen.
Martin admittedly has a long way to go to maintain his current rate over the length of time as names like Hazem El Masri, Adam Reynolds or even the man second on the list, Nathan Cleary.
He landed the first 13 attempts of his NRL career before missing one from the right touchline against the Rabbitohs in round 18. He has kicked 20 consecutive goals since to push his season - and career - record to 33 goals from 34 attempts at around 97%.
The list – restricted to players who have taken at least 30 shots at goal to eliminate the many players who had a 100% success rate over a handful of attempts – is over-represented by recent players.
The other breakout sharpshooter of this year, Jamayne Isaako, is fourth with 81 goals at better than 84% and fringe Knights playmaker Brock Lamb is third after kicking seven from seven in limited chances this year to go with 23 from 28 last year.
Legendary goal-kickers Daryl Halligan and Johnathan Thurston both fail to make the top 10, with averages just below 80%. Point-scoring machines Andrew Johns and Cameron Smith don't get anywhere close, with each kicking at just under 75% for the careers.
It highlights the improvements in technique in recent times, possibly assisted by the use of kicking tees rather than the mounds of sand Halligan and Johns had to rely on when they started out.
Martin's lofty average will almost certainly have to drop over time but it won't necessarily be by too much given most of his attempts this year – even the tougher ones – never look like missing.
Martin humbly deflected praise of his stunning record this week, insisting he had yet to encounter a tough run at the tee.
"I haven't had too many tough kicks so I've been pretty lucky," Martin said.
"I try not to think about [my kicking stats]. I took it on over the last year [in reserve grade] when I got the opportunity in round one. Since then I've built on it and got consistent with it."
The Bulldogs have struggled to rack up the wins in 2018 but are blessed in the goal-kicking stakes with Kerrod Holland around to keep Martin honest.
"We were out there [Wednesday] and still competing. It's good because if something happens to me he's the next best," Martin said.
"He's having a few dramas with his ankles at the moment and hasn't been kicking too much … we always have the coffee challenge and I beat him yesterday.
"At the end of training we go in front, 30 metres out and we have a little point system – four points from the black dot to right pole and than two points left pole to black dot. We have three kicks each and the whoever gets the highest points wins."
The top 10 list also highlights just how brilliant Nathan Cleary has been off the tee since breaking into first grade in 2016. His 173 from 200 attempts is easily the best of anyone with 100 or more attempts.
Using 100 as a minimum barrier, Cleary heads a field of Adam Reynolds (529 at 82.3%), Aidan Sezer (179 at 82.1%), Hazem El Masri (891 at 82.0%), Luke Walsh (154 at 81.5%) and Jarrod Croker (656 at 81.1%).