The Roosters are unsurprisingly taking a 'business as usual' approach to this week's preliminary final against South Sydney but the one-game suspension to Latrell Mitchell leaves a yawning gap that no player in the competition other than the one he is so often compared to – Greg Inglis – could go close to filling.
Inglis, of course, will be on the other side on Saturday night, although the two are firming to be centre partners in green and gold later in the year.
Following news Mitchell had failed in his bid to have a one-game ban overturned by challenging a crusher tackle charge at the NRL judiciary, NRL.com Stats devised a formula to work out just how damaging the game-breaking centre had been this year compared to his fellow centres.
Unsurprisingly, the NSW three-quarter is at the top of the tree.
Every player's impact per run was assessed by weighting their tries, try assists, line breaks, line break assists and tackle busts (in that order, with tries deemed worth the most, followed by try assists, down to busts and metres per run) to give an 'impact per run' figure.
Mitchell's figure of 18.2 was second of all players, behind Inglis at 18.3.
This formula favours more explosive players over high work rate, and also does not take into account defence – remembering Mitchell arguably won the Roosters their last game against Cronulla with a stunning try-saving tackle on Luke Lewis.
Mitchell averages just 7.8 runs per game, well below the likes of Esan Marsters (14) and Ricky Leutele (12.8) who are the busiest running centres in the NRL but much further down the impact per run list with IPR scores of 15.9 and 15.6 respectively.
Mitchell Aubusson, Mitchell's replacement at left centre this week, is a defensive work-horse in the back row but no stranger to playing centre. However he is a very different style of player with an IPR score of just 15.3.
There is clearly no like-for-like replacement for Mitchell within the Roosters squad and, beyond Inglis, within the entire NRL, but Roosters left-edge playmaker Luke Keary said the game plan would not change based on one player being out.
"Aubs will probably slot straight in there. He's obviously been around for a long time now and he'd be up there with one of the better defensive back-rowers or centres in the competition," Keary told NRL.com.
"He's played left centre plenty of times before and he'll do a good job for us. If any one of the 17 goes down you can't go like for like replacement but to put someone in there that's been so good for this club for so long, it's good people like that are around.
"We'll just do a bit of extra work. It won't change much at all. We won't change any structure at this time of year."
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