Goosen best of the lot

A statistical study of this year’s Super Rugby goal-kickers saw Johan Goosen rated as the best performer.

The young flyhalf only featured in half of this year’s tournament as he suffered a serious shoulder injury during the Cheetahs’ 36-33 defeat to the Highlanders in April. However, he was the outstanding goal kicker of the tournament when fit, topping the overall individual point-scorer list and impressing with his distance and accuracy from all over the field.

And according to the overall stats, he was the best performer from the kicking tee.

Goosen boasted an 86% success rate (48 from 56 attempts). He also had more challenging kicks at goal than the other regular goal-kickers. The player also did well on attack and was solid on defence in general play.

This form caught the attention of Springbok head coach Heyneke Meyer. While Goosen was set to feature for the Baby Boks in the Junior World Championship in June, it’s believed that Meyer was keen on introducing the 20-year-old to Test rugby during the series against England. However, injury ruled Goosen out.

The Cheetahs playmaker will return during the Currie Cup in September. If he remains match fit and rediscovers the form he displayed during Super Rugby, we could see Goosen feature for the Boks during the end-of-year tour to Europe.

The major concern from these statistics is the struggle of Bok flyhalf incumbent Morne Steyn. He had the worst success rate among the South African goal-kickers with only 76% (84 from 110 attempts).

His goal kicking was also a concern during the Boks’ June Test series against England. He only converted 13 kicks from 23 attempts over the three matches, which is a success rate of 57%. This included a poor performance in the third Test, a 14-14 stalemate in PE, which saw him miss four goal attempts.

Meyer has come out in Steyn’s defence in a recent interview with SA Rugby magazine, saying: ‘I feel for Morné because in the past three years he has played every single Test and Super Rugby game he can. He hasn’t missed one training session in that time either. I had a sense it would take its toll eventually and I think what we saw was mental fatigue. He’ll get his form back.

‘Nobody’s place is cemented in the national team, but I think there are mitigating factors regarding Morné. He needs a mental break.’

Super Rugby goal kicker rankings (Click on graphic)

Meanwhile, Stormers pivot Peter Grant was ranked third overall according to the study, even though he boasted the highest success rate of 93% (50 from 54 attempts). However, it was noted that he had easier kicks compared to the other goal kickers on the top 10 list (the difficulty rating is determined by three factors – angle, distance and altitude).

Sharks fullback Pat Lambie was the next best South African in sixth place, with a 80% success rate (52 from 65 attempts). Elton Jantjies was ranked 14th overall, with a success rate of 86% (49 from 57 attempts). But like Grant, the Lions flyhalf enjoyed easier shots at goal.

From a foreign point of view, All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter struggled overall, but picked up form during the June Test window and the latter part of Super Rugby. Reds centre Mike Harris was rated as Australia’s best goal-kicker, with Rebels fullback James O’Connor also impressing before being sidelined with injury.

By Gareth Duncan

Study done by statistician Jurie Nel. Model accepted for publication in the South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation (University of Stellenbosch). Contact Nel via [email protected]