According to Advanced Rugby stats, we take a closer look at how the local inside centres have been performing in Vodacom Super Rugby.
Andre Esterhuizen was our standout South African inside centre in round six of Super Rugby. Esterhuizen was once again huge for his side and continues to play a integral role in the success of this impressive Sharks team.
Esterhuizen had a hand in two tries on Saturday against the Jaguares, one in which he easily powered his way past Joaquin Diaz Bonilla to finish in the corner, and the other being a brilliant tap pass on to a flying Hyron Andrews, getting the ball off quickly in the face of a rushing opponent, leading to Andrews scoring a brilliant try and netting an assist to Esterhuizen.
Esterhuizen saw more possession than he has this season and made the most of it, running seven times for 40 metres, a whole three more runs than he has been averaging per game this season. Esterhuizen ran successfully in his side’s victory, beating three Jaguares defenders and recording one linebreak.
Against the Jaguares, Esterhuizen recorded nine tackles and missed two, and continues to be far and away the top tackling South African inside centre with 46 tackles on the season, at a handy 88.5% success rate, which also leads the local inside centres. Johnny Kotze has the second most tackles, at 29.
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Kotze has continued his fine run of games with an excellent performance in the Vodacom Bulls’ first victory of the season. Kotze is enjoying the switch inside to the No 12 jersey, and the additional possession he is now getting as a result.
Kotze ran for more metres than the other local centres in the weekend, making 45m on his five runs and beating one defender. Most of the extra possession Kotze had he facilitated to his teammates, stretching the ball wide to the Bulls wingers who ran rampant over the Highlanders. Kotze made six passes, 3.25 more than his average going into the game.
Kotze was the pick of the local inside centres on defence in round six, recording a season-high 11 tackles at a 100% success rate. This is a massive improvement on his seasonal average. Going into this past weekend, Kotze was averaging just 4.5 tackles a game and making them at 69%.
In fact, since switching from outside to inside centre, Kotze is now tackling at an 86% success rate, compared to 67% at outside centre. He has also made nearly twice as many tackles at 12 (19 tackles) than he did at 13 (10) despite playing one fewer game at inside centre.
Dan Kriel played well for the Lions in their loss to the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday morning. Kriel ran for 28m on five runs, breaking one tackle for what was a below-average running performance than what we’ve seen from him this season. Kriel made his first linebreak of the season against the Rebels and was the last of the South African inside centre to do so.
Kriel recorded six tackles in his 63-minute effort, one more tackle than he was averaging per game this season. He missed two tackles for a 75% completion rate against the Rebels, a tad below his season tackle rate of 87%.
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Photo: Gallo Images