Turning four points into six is frequently the difference between victory and defeat, and heading into 2022 some clubs are much better stocked than others when it comes to goal-kicking.
Whether it's Adam Reynolds' move to the Broncos, Chad Townsend and Shaun Johnson departing the Sharks, Jamal Fogarty heading from the Titans to Raiders or the emergence of new sharpshooters, the landscape already looks very different from 12 months ago.
As such, NRL.com has cast an eye over every club's quality off the tee to rank all 16 clubs' goal-kicking depth heading into 2022.
All player goal kicking percentages listed below are their 2021 success rates followed by career rates, with both taken into account when determining the rankings.
2021: Jarrod Croker: 38/42, 90.5%; Jamal Fogarty: 70/90, 77.8%; Sam Williams: 15/19, 78.9%; Jordan Rapana: 9/14, 64.3%
Career: Croker 80.7%, Fogarty 75.2%, Williams 78.9%, Rapana 64.3%
Skipper Jarrod Croker may have had some injury battles lately but in between he has still been the number one sharpshooter in the NRL, slotting them at a remarkable 90% last season. The club has picked up Jamal Fogarty from the Titans who is a frontline replacement if Croker misses more games while Sam Williams will come into the side if both are out and presents a third front-line option.
2021: Nathan Cleary: 94/110, 85.5%; Stephen Crichton: 14/21, 66.7%; Jarome Luai NA
Career: Cleary 84.1%, Crichton 67.7%, Luai 72.7%
The Panthers are this lofty purely on the expert sharp-shooting of skipper Nathan Cleary. Cleary has been one of, if not the best goal-kickers in the NRL ever since his debut and kicked a massive 94 goals with just 16 misses last year. Crichton is a serviceable replacement but hardly a front-line kicker while Jarome Luai has also slotted a few in his time.
2021: Shaun Johnson: 18/20, 90.0%; Kodi Nikorima: 42/52, 80.8%; Reece Walsh 21/30, 70%; Chanel Harris-Tavita NA, Ash Taylor NA
Career: Johnson 75.8%, Nikorima 75.0%, Walsh 70.0%, Harris-Tavita 81.0%, Taylor 68.8%
The return of Johnson to add to a host of other competent kickers means the Warriors should always have a frontline kicker on the field, regardless of injuries. Johnson missed just twice last year from 20 attempts and Nikorima also kicked over 80% with Walsh now a third-stringer averaging 70%.
2021: Adam Reynolds: 118/149, 79.2%; Herbie Farnworth: 11/13, 84.6%; Jamayne Isaako: 50/63, 79.4%; Kotoni Staggs: NA
Career: Reynolds 82.2%, Farnworth 87.5%, Isaako 80.2%, Staggs 73.3%
The arrival of sharpshooter Adam Reynolds on top of some handy kickers already in the squad means Brisbane should be one of the most reliable sides off the tee in 2022. He was a touch down on his career average last year but is still one of the best in the business while Farnworth has missed just two of his 16 attempts so far and Isaako has been an 80% kicker over a long period.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Raiders
5. Sea Eagles
2021: Reuben Garrick: 121/148, 81.8%; Daly Cherry-Evans: 1/2, 50%
Career: Garrick 77.5%, Cherry-Evans 72.0%
The Sea Eagles have surged up the rankings after Garrick rediscovered his mojo in 2021 after an off year the year before, kicking at over 80% in 2021. DCE meanwhile, after a number of years not kicking at all, really hit his straps in the couple of years before Garrick took over but was barely needed at all last year as Garrick broke all-time point-scoring records.
2021: Ryan Papenhuyzen: 49/57, 86.0%; Nick Meaney: 5/9, 55.6%; Cameron Munster: 16/30, 53.3%
Career: Papenhuyzen 79.7%, Meaney 71.4%, Munster 56.7%
The Storm – and Cameron Munster – will be hoping the Maroons star isn't required at the tee in 2022 but if Papenhuyzen stays fit he has emerged as a genuine top-line kicker in recent years while Meaney's career numbers are ok (assuming he holds a spot in first grade) and he slotted a perfect six from six across the two trials.
2021: Zac Lomax: 35/45, Jack Bird: 6/8, 75.0%
Career: Lomax 79.0%, Bird 66.7%, Moses Mbye 68.6%
Zac Lomax has been a point scoring machine through his young career to date but injuries and a dip in kicking accuracy last year slowed him down. At his best he is a real sniper off the tee but the Dragons won't want him missing any time on field – Bird and Mbye are stop-gap options at best while Cody Ramsey and Tyrell Sloan each had shots in the trials but are yet to kick a goal at NRL level.
2021: Chad Townsend: 34/41, 82.9%; Val Holmes: 54/74, 73.0%; Scott Drinkwater: 11/14, 78.6%
Career: Townsend 69.9%, Holmes 72.9%, Drinkwater 78.6%
The improvement in Townsend's goal-kicking over the past two seasons has been remarkable; after averaging below 60% in 2019 he has had two seasons kicking at over 80%. Holmes is a handy back-up and while Drinkwater is unlikely to make the starting side, is one of the likely halves replacements if Townsend misses game time.
Match Highlights: Panthers v Eels
2021: Mitch Moses: 66/88, 75.0%; Clint Gutherson: 18/25, 72.0%
Career: Moses 76.2%, Gutherson 70.3%
The Eels could arguably slot in anywhere between about sixth and 10th, with Moses experiencing a bit of a dip last year but having kicked at over 81% in 2020. The halfback rarely misses games though injury and Gutherson is a reliable back-up, although depth behind that is very skinny.
2021: Toby Sexton: 16/20, 80.0%; Patrick Herbert: 0/3, 0%; Esan Marsters NA
Career: Sexton 80.0%, Herbert 64.3%, Marsters 71.6%
The Titans are all-in on Sexton with Jamal Fogarty and Ash Taylor departing and they'll need him to be good both at halfback and off the tee. Herbert is all but assured of a first grade spot but is strictly a back-up kicker while Marsters is another depth option but currently wouldn't make a full-strength 17.
2021: Nicho Hynes: 58/78, 74.4%; Braydon Trindall: 36/44, 81.8%; Matt Moylan NA
Career: Hynes 75.6%, Trindall 80.0%, Matt Moylan 64.7%
With Trindall looking less likely to make the starting 13 (and is also suspended to start the seson), it all falls on Hynes at the Sharks and while he did well last year he's still not that established as a kicker yet. His five from five in the final trial was a good sign though. Moylan is the man likely to keep Trindall out of the starting side but he's very much an emergency kicker. Trindall at least will be certain to play if Hynes is forced to miss games.
2021: Jake Averillo: 27/34, 79.4%; Kyle Flanagan: 17/20, 85.0%; Matt Burton: 6/9, 66.7%
Career: Averillo 79.6%, Flanagan 77.4%, Burton 66.7%
For all the Bulldogs' high-powered recruiting over the off-season, their halves combination and first-choice goal-kicker remains unclear. If the final trial is any indication, Burton and Averillo will start the season with Burton taking the kicks. Averillo has good numbers over a short career to date while Flanagan is less likely to start round one but has many more goals under his belt. Burton himself has kicked only a few goals to date at NRL level.
NRL Fantasy analysis: Knights
2021: Jake Clifford: 33/49, 67.3%; Kalyn Ponga: 10/14, 71.4%; Mitch Barnett: 13/16, 81.3%; Dane Gagai NA
Career: Clifford 67.5%, Ponga 71.6%, Barnett 84.2%, Gagai 61.1%
Jake Clifford looks to have won the goal-kicking duties at the Knights but there's a genuine argument for Barnett. Ponga is a serviceable back-up while Gagai has also kicked but for the Knights to climb higher up these rankings they'll need their first pick kicking at better than 70%. Clifford slotted three from five during the trials.
2021: Latrell Mitchell: 7/11, 63.6%; Blake Taaffe: 6/12, 50%
Career: Mitchell 73.7%, Taaffe 50.0%
Reynolds' departure to Brisbane leaves a huge hole at the Bunnies not just in playmaking and leadership but in terms of goal kicking. Mitchell will take the reins but after a couple of good seasons off the tee at the Roosters he has only kicked 12 from 19 attempts in two years at Souths, and will miss round one suspended. He will miss round one and likely have rep duties mid-season and there's not much in the way of support for games he misses.
2021: Paul Momirovski NA, Billy Smith NA, Siosiua Taukeiaho: 22/28, 78.6%; Sam Walker: 23/42, 54.8%; Adam Keighran: 35/48, 72.9%; James Tedesco: 5/13, 38.5%
Career: Momirovski 75.0%, Smith 0%, Taukeiaho 73.3%, Walker 54.8%, Keighran 75.9%, Tedesco 38.5%
The Roosters' goal-kicking was a mess last year, with easily the lowest conversion rate of the 16 clubs at 63.9% as Walker and Tedesco struggled, while Taukeiaho and Keighran went ok but often neither was on the field when a kick had to be taken. Momirovski has moved clubs every year since his debut and was only the kicker at one club, the Wests Tigers in 2019. He shapes as the new kicker, assuming he holds Smith out of that centre spot, while Smith himself is a kicker (although missed his only shot to date at NRL level) who could also answer the SOS. Strangely Keighran, who may not often make the starting 13 when all troops are available, was the first choice kicker in the trial rather than giving someone like Momirovski some practice. The Roosters could jump up this list once the season starts but for now there are too many question marks.
16. Wests Tigers
2021: Luke Brooks: 7/9, 77.8%; Adam Doueihi: 69/87, 79.3%, Jackson Hastings NA
Career: Brooks 77.8%, Doueihi 74.8%, Hastings 82.9%
The Tigers would be higher up this list if Doueihi was fit to start the year but he is easing back from a knee reconstruction. That leaves Brooks, who has had nine shots at goal in his nine-year career, and Hastings, with Brooks preferred while both were on the field in the final trial. All of Brooks's nine career goals attempts were all last year and he got seven of them but he's not exactly a recognised kicker. Hastings hasn't been a regular kicker since 2016 (but kicked well that year) with a career record of 29 goals from 35 shots, and got one from two in the trial. Like the Roosters, the Tigers could well jump up this list once we're into the swing of things but for now the lack of a recognised kicker is a concern.