With Vodacom Super Rugby on an enforced break, we take a look back at how the local outside centres have been performing, according to Advanced Rugby stats.
Johnny Kotze was very active last Saturday against the Reds, recording 15 possessions, the most he has seen in a game this season. Kotze backed himself, and his running game, and had great success doing so, breaking four Reds tackles and completing two linebreaks. Kotze ran for 113 metres on his eight runs in round seven, more metres than any other outside centre in the competition, and was seventh among all players for the round.
This was Kotze’s second time this season passing 100m with ball in hand, with the previous instance happening back in round five against the Jaguares. Kotze has now cemented his spot as the clear leading runner among South African 13s, with 362m on the season. Second best, Ruhan Nel, sits a far way back on 250m.
Kotze made seven tackles in his side’s 41-17 loss, missing three tackles. He still sits in first place among local outside centres with 36 tackles this season, at a 77% completion rate. Mannie Rass is breathing down Kotze’s neck, sitting behind him on 27, albeit with one fewer game played.
Rass was impressive in his 58 minutes of play before his night ended after suffering an injury to his ankle. Rass ran for 39m, the most he’s made in a game this season, on his seven carries while breaking one Blues tackle.
Rass continued to deliver another standout defensive effort in round seven, leading all local outside centres with nine tackles, missing one, despite playing 22 fewer minutes than the other three 13s. Rass’ missed tackle against the Blues was his first miss of the season, and now, after seven rounds of play, he ranks second for tackles among local outside centres – with 27, making these at an incredible 96% success rate, more than any other SA centre.
On an 80-minute basis, however, Rass is making 9.2 tackles, a large number more than second-best Kotze (6.1), while Nel and Lukhanyo Am sit even further back, on 4.5 and 4.2, respectively.
Am’s individual player’s statistics don’t seem to jump off the page, but it’s clear to see the impact he provides to his team. Am has shown extreme consistency this season, and his leadership is an integral piece in his Sharks side’s monster defence this year.
The Sharks, over the entire season, are holding opponent teams to 450 run metres – the lowest of all teams, nearly half that of the highest team (Sunwolves – 885m), and a good chunk less than the average of 593m. Am is a huge part in this incredible team feat, with both himself and teammate Andre Esterhuizen forming an impenetrable centre pairing.
In his side’s 24-14 round-seven win, Am ran for 28m on four carries, beating two Stormers defenders. Am made three tackles, missing one, and now in seven games this season Am has tackled at an impressive 86% completion rate, only below Rass, who is tackling at a mighty 96% this year.
Am has been a pest at the breakdown this season, and he continued these ways at Kings Park on the weekend, pinching one steal, adding to his three forced breakdown penalties so far this season. Am is sixth equal among all Super Rugby players for breakdown turnovers, with four. No other backline player has more than two breakdown turnovers this season, and no South African 13s have any.
Nel was very quiet in a round-seven effort when his Stormers team were swamped by a huge Sharks defensive effort. Nel saw five touches on the weekend, well below his season average of 8.5, and made three runs for 30m.
Going into round seven, Nel was close on Kotze’s heels as the best running outside centre in SA, only 29m behind Kotze and both were drawn even with four linebreaks. Nel, and the Stormers, didn’t see many metres or ball. In this game the Sharks defence outmuscled the Stormers, holding them to only 265 team metres, a far cry from their season average of 509 run metres a game. Nel finished the game with five tackles, missing two.
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Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets