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Stat Attack: How Blues and Maroons backlines compare

A whopping four of Queensland's 'back five' players in Wednesday's State of Origin opener against New South Wales at the Adelaide Oval are set to be debutants.

But the Blues have also named a rookie in their backline as well as another two players with only a handful of Origins to their names.

Coming off a high-scoring and free-wheeling finals series under the six-again infringement rule, the attacking prowess of these rival speedsters could prove decisive in game one.

So how do the backlines stack up statistically using data from the NRL season just gone? Read on to find out.

The back fives (as named on Tuesday)


  • Fullback: AJ Brimson (0 Origins, 45 NRL games)
  • Wingers: Xavier Coates (0 Origins, 12 NRL games), Phil Sami (0 Origins, 55 NRL games)
  • Centres: Dane Gagai (13 Origins, 203 NRL games), Brenko Lee (0 Origins, 67 NRL games)

Collective total: 13 Origins, 385 NRL games

New South Wales

  • Fullback: James Tedesco (10 Origins, 158 NRL games)
  • Wingers: Daniel Tupou (4 Origins, 175 NRL games), Josh Addo-Carr (6 Origins, 105 NRL games)
  • Centres: Jack Wighton (3 Origins, 178 NRL games), Clint Gutherson (0 Origins, 114 NRL games)

Collective total: 23 Origins, 730 NRL games.

The Blues have the edge in experience. However, the gap could be reduced if Tedesco is unable to overcome a knee injury, in which case Gutherson would likely move to fullback with fellow rookie Zac Lomax replacing him at centre. Lomax has played 37 NRL games.

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Line breaks 


  • Brimson: 13 line breaks from 9 games in 2020 (1.4 per match)
  • Coates: 8 from 12 (0.66 per match) 
  • Gagai: 15 from 19 (0.78 per match)
  • Lee: 5 from 14 (0.35 per match)
  • Sami: 7 from 13 (0.53 per match)

Total: 48 from 67 (0.71 per match)


  • Tedesco: 15 line breaks from 19 games in 2020 (0.78 per match)
  • Tupou: 10 from 15 (0.66 per match)
  • Wighton: 11 from 22 (0.5 per match)
  • Gutherson: 12 from 22 (0.54 per match)
  • Addo-Carr: 18 from 21 (0.85 per match)

Total: 66 from 99 (0.66)

Led by the dynamic Brimson, the Maroons' back five collectively averaged more line breaks this NRL season than their Blues counterparts despite playing less matches.

Titans fullback Brimson missed the first half of the year with a back injury but exploded upon his return. If he keeps up that form, Brimson will provide Queensland the X-factor to break a game open.

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  • Brimson: 7 tries from 9 games in 2020 (0.77 per match)
  • Coates: 5 from 12 (0.41 per match)
  • Gagai: 11 from 19 (0.57 per match)
  • Lee: 4 from 14 (0.28 per match)
  • Sami: 7 from 13 (0.53 per match)

Total: 34 from 67 (0.507 per match)


  • Tedesco: 11 tries from 19 games in 2020 (0.57 per match)
  • Tupou: 11 from 15 (0.73)
  • Wighton: 13 from 22 (0.59)
  • Gutherson: 10 from 22 (0.45)
  • Addo-Carr: 16 from 21 (0.76)

Total: 70 from 99 (0.70 per match)

The NSW boys possess a better try strike rate, however it's worth noting their back five all played for clubs that made the finals. Gagai is the only Queensland back whose team played past round 20. 

Brimson had the deadliest strike rate of all players, albeit from a small sample size, while Addo-Carr was just behind him and sustained his pattern over the season to help Melbourne go on and win the premiership.

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Average metres per match in 2020


  • Brimson: 165m
  • Coates: 115m
  • Gagai: 138m
  • Lee: 96m
  • Sami: 123

Total average: 127.4


  • Tedesco: 231m
  • Tupou: 181m
  • Wighton: 102m
  • Gutherson: 190m
  • Addo-Carr: 129m

Total average: 166.6m

Run metre production is where the Blues boast a clear advantage, with Roosters duo Tedesco and Tupou invaluable assets bringing the ball out of trouble. The gap between the sides probably isn't as large as the numbers make out, though, because Gutherson is set to play centre instead of fullback and his workload should decrease. Still, the Maroons backs must up the ante.

Tackle breaks


  • Brimson: 30 tackle breaks from 9 games in 2020 (3.3 per match)
  • Coates: 30 from 12 (2.5 per match)
  • Gagai: 61 from 19 (3.2 per match)
  • Lee: 24 from 14 (1.7 per match)
  • Sami: 40 from 13 (3.07 per match)

Total average: 185 from 67 (2.27 per match)


  • Tedesco: 139 tackle breaks from 19 games in 2020 (7.3 per match)
  • Tupou: 59 from 15 (3.9 per match)
  • Wighton: 65 from 22 (2.9 per match)
  • Gutherson: 61 from 22 (2.7 per match)
  • Addo-Carr: 67 from 21 (3.1 per match)

Total average: 391 from 99 games (3.9 per match)

Tedesco is the king of the tackle break, the Roosters star topping the league in that category this year.

NSW have Queensland covered easily for tackle breaks, and though they may find it harder to penetrate the Maroons given Origin's intensity, it could be what sets up victory in the series opener.

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