We take a look at the players who put in the hard yards, hitting ruck and mauls, winning ball and who graft away tirelessly to ensure their team is on the front foot.
More often than not the plaudits after a game of rugby are reserved for the players that score the tries and kick the points during the 80 minutes. In the dressing room however, there will be plenty of pats on the back and kudos given for those that have done the ‘unseen’ work during the match. Those players who have put their bodies around the park, regularly under a heap of other bodies and looked for no more thanks than that pat on the back from a team mate.
In this feature we uncover who those players are and quantify the workload they are getting through in each match. First of all we look at the players who have attended the most rucks overall across the opening seven rounds with Liam Wright leading the way, one of just two Australian based players in the top 10 along with Wallabies star Michael Hooper. Hurricanes duo Ardie Savea and Liam Mitchell have been standout performers for their side, Savea often getting the praise for his elusive attacking play but his tireless efforts at the breakdown must also be recognised.
Next up is the list of players to get to the breakdown first, arguably the most important role in the ruck and the player with the biggest chance of either securing possession or stealing it from the opposition. Liam Wright once again tops this chart, over half of the rucks he has attended he has been the first person there. Interestingly there are three sets of players from the same club in this top 10, with the Chiefs, NSW Waratahs and Jaguares all having two go-to men to get their bodies to the ruck first.
Finally we look at the players having the biggest impact at the ruck, getting there is one thing but having an effective contribution is another. Whether you’ve cleared an opponent out of the ruck, won a turnover/penalty or just caused a nuisance then you will have made a difference for your side. Of players to attend 100+ rucks in Super Rugby this season, Chris van Zyl has been the most effective, making an effective contribution at 87% of the 122 rucks he has gotten to.
Three players from the top 10 attendees overall also make this final ranking, proving that they are not just working hard but also efficiently. Hyron Andrews, Reed Prinsep and Liam Mitchell all worthy of more plaudits than maybe they are receiving at the moment.