Creating space in the opposition defence is a skill required to be among the premier playmakers in Super Rugby, and in the 2018 campaign we’ve seen some fresh faces and some seasoned assistants step up to the plate to put their teammates into point-scoring opportunities.
The rise of the Rebels has seen Auckland-born Jack Debreczeni assist a break for a team mate with a pass 10 times this season, more than any other player in the competition. He’s one above seasoned campaigner Elton Jantjies, who has done so on nine occasions although he has played 80 minutes more than his Rebels counterpart. Damian McKenzie’s shift to flyhalf in 2018 has seen him boost his creativity, and he’s already provided eight break passes this season to be leading the way in the New Zealand conference.
When taking it one step further than just making a break, again it’s a Rebels’ player who has excelled. Scrum-half Will Genia has provided six try assists via passes so far this campaign, more than any other player in the competition and twice as many as any other Australian-based player (Curtis Rona, 3). He’s made an average of one try pass per game this season, the same as Aaron Smith who is ranked second overall with five try passes from his five appearances. They’re the only players from outside South Africa to have provided more than three try passes this season, however. Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Jesse Kriel, Robert du Preez, and Cameron Wright have each made four for the campaign thus far.
Overall, it’s Stormers’ scrumhalf Dewalt Duvenage who has been the busiest with his hands in Super Rugby 2018. Duvenage has made 383 passes this campaign, 68 more than any other player and 116 more than the next best South African player.
Will Genia again features highly, ranking in at number four in this regard. However, Brumbies counterpart Joe Powell leads the way for the Australians, having made 315 passes so far this tournament, which is the second most of any player overall.