South Sydney lost in round one, but star recruit Jai Arrow proved his worth with a monster interchange effort that smashed through the VB Hard Earned baseline.
While Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris (101) was the week's highest-scoring player with a typically indefatigable performance against the Cowboys, Arrow (85) was perhaps the most impressive.
Even with five percent negative weighting applied to his score because the Rabbitohs posted one try fewer than Melbourne in a 26-18 defeat, the Queensland forward finished equal fifth overall.
The average VB Hard Earned index score for a bench player is 35 - a figure Arrow more than doubled in his 45 minutes at AAMI Park as the 25-year-old far exceeded the baseline of hard work on club debut.
According to data provided by VB, the ex-Titans lock produced a huge 19 runs (including 13 for eight-plus metres), 162m overall, 24 tackles with one miss, five tackle-busts and an offload.
The VB Hard Earned index rewards the toilers by scoring runs, tackles, offloads, tackle-breaks, decoys, supports and charge-downs.
The way each key statistic is weighted has slightly changed in 2021, with negative weighting applied to players in losing teams (the heavier the loss, the bigger the index score penalty).
- Runs have been divided into three categories with different weightings; line engaged (one point), runs under eight metres (two points) and runs over eight metres (three points). The new system will reward players who take the ball to the defensive line and gain post-contact metres.
- Weighting for offloads, tackle-breaks and tackles have increased from one to two points.
- Negative weighting for missed tackles has changed from minus one to minus two points.
- If a team concedes one more try than the opposition, the losing players' scores will decrease by five percent.
- If a team concedes two more tries than the opposition, the losing players' scores will decrease by 10 percent.
- If a team concedes three more tries than the opposition, the losing players' scores will decrease by 15 percent.
- If a team concedes four-plus tries more than the opposition, the losing players' scores will decrease by 20 percent.
- If teams finish with the same amount of tries, all players' scores will stay at their true value. Winning players' scores will never increase regardless of how many tries their team posts.
- A point will still be added for every charge-down, decoy and support.
Despite the tweaks, Fisher-Harris remains a Hard Earned colossus.
After finishing first on the 2019 VB Hard Earned leaderboard, he came fourth last season (with Manly's Jake Trbojevic and Warrior Tohu Harris tying at the top) and is set for another huge year.
The six-time Kiwi international opened his campaign on Saturday night with 21 runs (16 carries with a gain of eight-plus metres) for 188m overall, 25 tackles (one miss) and 14 decoys.
In passing three figures, the consistent Fisher-Harris dwarfed the average index score for a front-rower of 57.43.
No wonder the Panthers want to lock him down long-term.
Other standout performers in round one included Knights prop David Klemmer, who fell just short of the number one spot with an index score of 100 in Friday's 32-16 defeat of the Bulldogs.
Klemmer's front-row partner Daniel Saifiti (90) was also immense in his 100th NRL game, just missing a Team of the Week berth.
Roosters prop Lindsay Collins (89), Newcastle second-rower Tyson Frizell (85), Eels pair Junior Paulo (85) and Isaiah Papali'i (84) and Warriors enforcer Addin Fonua-Blake (84) were more of the big men who busted a gut despite the game's increased speed.
South Sydney's Latrell Mitchell (69) was the highest-scoring back despite a loss to Melbourne - playing well above the average fullback's hard work baseline of 44.4 - while exuberant Penrith winger Brian To'o busted an incredible 10 tackles and ran 11 times for eight or more metres as he posted a score of 59 (wing baseline score: 33.8).
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