We take a closer look at how the local inside centres have been performing in Vodacom Super Rugby, according to Advanced Rugby stats.
In round five of Super Rugby we had Johnny Kotze as the standout South African inside centre. Kotze relished his move from outside centre, replacing the injured Burger Odendaal in the No 12 jersey for the Vodacom Bulls’ round-five clash with the Jaguares.
Kotze looked great in his role at No 12, enjoying far more possession against the Jaguares than he’s seen all season. He made the most of these extra touches at Loftus on Saturday, logging eight runs for a whopping 107 metres, good for sixth most among all Super Rugby players in round five. Going into this game Kotze had ran for a combined 97m through his first three games this season.
Kotze, prior to the round-five clash, had just one linebreak all season. But, against the Jaguares, Kotze was a difficult man to bring down, breaking three Jaguares tackles and recording three linebreaks in his side’s loss. Johnny also had a hand in another linebreak. Altogether he was involved in breaking the Jaguares line four times, the most of all No 12s in Super Rugby in round five.
Kotze saw an increased defensive workload in his switch to 12, making eight tackles, five more than his season average, and missing three, for a completion rate of 73%.
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Andre Esterhuizen had a large role in his side’s defensive masterclass against the Reds on Saturday morning and was the best defensive 12 in Super Rugby in round five. Andre’s rush defence was superb at Suncorp, recording 10 tackles and one miss in his side’s 33-23 victory. Esterhuizen leads all local inside centres through five rounds with 37 tackles, at a completion rate of 90%. The next inside centre is Dan Kriel, with 20 tackles, although playing one fewer game.
Esterhuizen saw far fewer possessions in what was a defensive-orientated performance by the Sharks. Andre, coming into this round-five clash, was averaging 5.5 runs a game, however he failed to make a single run against the Reds, in a performance where the Sharks recorded the lowest number of runs among all sides in the round (55). He continued his run of well-disciplined performances this season, completing a 78-minute effort without making any errors, nor conceding any penalties.
Dan Kriel was solid in his side’s 29-17 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday. Dan ran the ball eight times for 54m, breaking the one tackle and getting away two offloads, his first recorded offloads this season.
Kriel recorded a single tackle against the Waratahs, far lower than the 6.3 tackles he was averaging coming into round five.
Kriel has had the best hands of all the local 12s this season, with his sole drop this season coming this round in Sydney. Dan has also been on the right side of the law this year, with himself and Esterhuizen the only SA inside centres yet to concede a penalty.
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