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Stat Attack: Long kicks finding space not so easy

Long kicks finding space dropped by more than one for each team per game in 2020 with pressure placed on playmakers and backline positioning better than ever before.  

Incoming coach Anthony Griffin's dilemma with where to play Dragons star Ben Hunt in 2021 will come down to balance but either way the maligned playmaker still remains one of the best at finding open turf in the opposition's territory.

Hunt finished the 2020 Telstra Premiership season a clear leader with the boot, turning the defensive line around and finding space on a competition-high 36 occasions.

His switch to hooker under Paul McGregor in July was met with widespread reaction - both positive and negative - as the Dragons searched to dig themselves out of a hole midway through the season.

With Hunt in the halves they went 0-7 but his move to the bench or starting hooker yielded a 50% win rate.

Most of Hunt's best efforts with the boot came after taking a couple of steps out of dummy half before finding space downfield.  

The Dragons finished the year on top in this statistical area with 64 at an average of 3.2 per game and Hunt remained in the dummy-half role for all but three occasions to finish the year.

Canberra's new halves pairing of Jack Wighton (22) and George Williams (14) combined for 36 of the side's 51 total, the second-best club in the Telstra Premiership, with injured hooker Josh Hodgson also having eight before rupturing his ACL.

Better. Faster. Stronger.

Wighton was the competition's best in 2019 with Hunt in the top three alongside Daly Cherry-Evans and Michael Morgan.

The boot of Cherry-Evans - who ranked second in 2020 behind Hunt with 28 in this area - guided the Sea Eagles to third spot in the team pecking order despite a lacklustre season.

Surprisingly, and perhaps in another sign Trent Robinson was not warming to the Luke Keary-Kyle Flanagan combination as well as early-season form might've indicated, the Roosters finished last in this area with a paltry nine.

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