Just how valuable is goal kicking? Well, every round this season, I will keep track of each club’s goalkickers and whether their efforts made or broke the result for their side that week.
Now, to show just how valuable this aspect of the game is, I have gone through and readjusted the 2016 premiership ladder to show how it would have looked if every goal attempted was converted.
Naturally, this has seen some close games end in draws and has even seen a number of results reversed.
As far as the ladder is concerned, it saw some big movers. Fifth-placed Brisbane jumped up to third, the 2015 premiers North Queensland dropped from fourth to seventh, and the second-last Roosters climbed up to 13th place.
It also saw the West Tigers grab a top-eight spot and Gold Coast drop out of the finals placings, while the poor old Newcastle Knights went winless.
Here is the ladder after these calculations were made:
As we know, the third-placed Cronulla Sharks went on to beat minor premiers the Melbourne Storm in the grand final.
If those ranked sides met in the grand final according to this ladder, then it would have been the Broncos that won the 2016 premiership.
It’s a long bow to draw, but it does highlight just how important goalkicking is – even in the modern game where most goal kickers have success rates in the mid-to-high 70 percentile marks. It certainly emphasises the value of the elite 80-plus goalkickers – as Jarrod Croker, Johnathan Thurston, Nathan Cleary, Tyrone Roberts and Trent Hodkinson managed in 2016 – can be to their clubs.
This is highlighted even further by those teams who don’t have very good conversion rates, such as the Wests Tigers, who had more missed goals last year than any other side. As the ladder above shows, it potentially cost them a place in the finals.