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Thread: Wallabies team picked on statistics

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    Wallabies team picked on statistics

    Wallabies team picked on statistics
    By Iain Payten Wallabies team picked on statistics | The Daily Telegraph

    May 16, 2008 12:00am

    FOR Wallabies hopefuls who do their best work in areas the numbers men don't count, keep this quote in mind: "Statistics are no substitute for judgment."

    But just as nine out of 10 internet quotes prove statistics can be dismissed, unfortunately for you stats still spin the wheels of sport.

    That piece of paper you see a coach or selector clutching is nearly always a stats sheet, lined with dozens of columns counting tackles, linebreaks, errors, lineout wins, crooked throws and metres gained.

    While it may not be the last word, it's invariably the first.

    So with Australia's Super 14 sides locked in derby matches this weekend, and Robbie Deans' first Wallabies squad to be announced on June 2, MainGame has delved into the numbers to look at the leading candidates.

    Courtesy of Fox Sports Stats, the figures throw up some contentious names sure to cause debate - such as Tyrone Smith for the inside-centre spot - but generally the stats back up the names and reputations.

    Twelve men picked in this Wallabies XV were in the 22 that lost to England in the 2007 World Cup quarter-final, while only Smith and Luke Burgess would make debuts.

    Here is a summary,

    PROPS: Perhaps the worst position to start with in a piece based on statistics, given a prop's value is notoriously hard to measure. The Waratahs have had the most consistent Australian scrum this year, so NSW's Benn Robinson shapes as the loose head and Matt Dunning as a converted tight head. ACT prop Nic Henderson has good numbers in general play, but Robinson has been in great form in general play in recent weeks and averages almost four runs per game. Dunning has done well, having switched to tight head, and works hardest in defence with 66 tackles this year. Al Baxter and Guy Shepherdson are not far behind him.

    HOOKER: Wallabies incumbent Stephen Moore again has the runs on the board. Though playing for the struggling Reds, Moore has the most runs (67), the most tackle busts (28) and linebreaks (5), and is the most accurate lineout thrower (84.8 per cent). NSW's Adam Freier and Tatafu Polota-Nau are up there, though the latter struggles with lineout accuracy (74.4 per cent).

    LOCKS: Showing just how much he'll be missed in Australian rugby, Dan Vickerman is again the standout lock. Vickerman's defence and lineout work are miles ahead of his rivals. The big lock has made 168 tackles (averaging 14) - 54 more than the next best. His 62 lineout wins include a competition-best 12 steals. Skippers Nathan Sharpe (Force) and James Horwill (Reds) both have claims to bind up with Vickerman. Sharpe runs most (10 per game at 4m each) but Horwill makes more yardage and tackles more. Struck match.

    BLINDSIDE BREAKAWAY: NSW's Rocky Elsom has the edge over the Force's Scott Fava, based on his superior overall game at the lineout and the breakdown. Fava runs further (54.5m per game) but Elsom busts the most tackles (3.3 per game) and linebreaks (6), defends more and is only bettered by Mitchell Chapman (25) for lineout wins (19).

    OPENSIDE BREAKAWAY: Given the terrific form of Phil Waugh, for Brumbies skipper George Smith to be so statistically superior again this season is mind-blowing. Smith has 52 more runs than anyone else with 122, and leads tackle busts (23), tackles (147) and pilfers (10). Smith's ball handling is also better, although Waugh's side has been plagued with wet weather. Waugh's inspirational leadership has been noteworthy for the successful Tahs, but Smith's efforts in lifting a young side can't be denied either.

    NO. 8: NSW's wrecking ball No. 8 Wycliff Palu is a no-brainer after a career-best season. Palu has made almost 11 runs per game for a gain of 57.8m a match. He's broken a staggering 46 tackles (20 more than anyone else), has the most tackles (81) and leads the Super 14 in offloads (31). His back-up is either the skilful Stephen Hoiles, who leads all the ball-handling stats, or else the hard-working Force No. 8 Richard Brown.

    HALFBACK: Sam Cordingley's injuries have seen Luke Burgess shoot up the selection ladder without a close rival. The slick-passing NSW No. 9 is deadly in attack with most run metres (40 per game), tackle busts (20) and offloads (10). Patrick Phibbs and Brett Sheehan are hard-tackling alternatives.

    FIVE-EIGHTH: Hard to see Matt Giteau being challenged given his experience, but Kurtley Beale's stats show he'd perhaps be third line in line after Berrick Barnes. Giteau's stats show a complete game but Beale's passing (18 offloads and 5 try assists) is actually better, and he tackles more (7.6 a game). He has also kicked most in the Super 14.

    INSIDE CENTRE: In a tight field, the numbers spit out Tyrone Smith as a potential bolter. Like Tom Carter and Scott Staniforth, Smith is a hard runner (more than 50m a game) but the younger brother of George Smith adds 3.2 tackle busts a game, the most linebreaks (6) and try assists (3). Barnes could be Robbie Deans's style of 12 though as a second five-eighth, with a dominant long kicking game, comparable ball-handling stats and the most tackles (10.2 a game).

    OUTSIDE CENTRE: Ryan Cross's stats are largely the best, but Stirling Mortlock's absences with injury this year throw up a cloud. Cross has done little wrong by running for 79.5m a game to Mortlock's 66.2m, but the Wallabies skipper is likely to keep his job on power at the line if nothing else. He's made 5.8 tackle busts a game in 5 games, compared with Cross's average of 2.8 in 11.

    WINGERS: Drew Mitchell and Lote Tuqiri look to be the picks. Speedster Mitchell has run the furthest in the Super 14 (1085m at 90.4 a game) and has an equal share of the most linebreaks (11). He also has the most offloads (15), kick metres (1910) and tackles (45) of the Aussie flyers. Tuqiri's strong running puts him just in front of incumbent Adam Ashley-Cooper.

    FULLBACK: Cameron Shepherd will duel with Mark Gerrard to step up after the loss of Chris Latham. Both are equally good with the ball in hand, but Shepherd is perhaps the leading candidate, averaging 56m a game to Gerrard's 50m when running and with a longer kicking game (40m per kick to 36m).

    For the full stats spreadsheet: http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegrap...ew-super14.xls

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    Veteran BLR's Avatar
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    Interesting to see that after TOCC mentioned Gerrard has the bigger boot in the No. 15 Wallabies race heats up for Shepherd that Sheperd is actually ahead of Gerrard.

    But the selections are null and void as they attempt to pick teams on stats then pick Mortlock on previous form not of the overwhelming stats in the favour of Cross...

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    Quote Originally Posted by BLR View Post
    Interesting to see that after TOCC mentioned Gerrard has the bigger boot in the No. 15 Wallabies race heats up for Shepherd that Sheperd is actually ahead of Gerrard.

    But the selections are null and void as they attempt to pick teams on stats then pick Mortlock on previous form not of the overwhelming stats in the favour of Cross...
    Agreed. Seems they go with the stats until the stats reveal a pick they don't agree with.

    I'm still trying to figure out what they did with 5/8's. Are they saying Giteau would be 3rd based on stats, or Beale would be third? Hard to say as they mention Barnes but then don't give any of his stats. And if Giteau is 3rd and you are picking on stats then why have you picked Giteau?

    I think some of these reporters need to be taught how to actually write an article.

    The point of the article was to show what the team would look like based on stats. I think it losses credibility once you start to add personal preference or experience as a selection criteria. Besides, if you are picking based just on stats then it's not like people could criticise you because you had no influence over the outcome.

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    Champion tdevil's Avatar
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    If you go according to the SMH Team of the week stats, the team should look like this:

    1 Ben Robinson (NSW)
    2 Tatafu Polata-Nau (NSW)
    3 Matt Dunning (NSW)
    4 Nathan Sharpe (FORCE)
    5 Dan vickerman (NSW)
    6 Rocky Elsom (NSW)
    7 Phil Waugh (NSW)
    8 Richard Brown (FORCE)
    9 Luke Burgess (NSW)
    10 Matt Giteau (FORCE)
    11 Drew Mitchell (FORCE)
    12 Tyrone Smith (ACT)
    13 Ryan Cross (FORCE)
    14 Lote Tuqiri (NSW)
    15 Mark Gerrard (ACT)

    Reserves:
    Steven Moore (QLD)
    James Horwill (QLD)
    George Smith (ACT)
    Nick Henderson (ACT)
    Sam Cordingley (QLD)
    Cameron Shepherd (Force)
    Morgan Tuirinui (QLD)

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BLR View Post
    Interesting to see that after TOCC mentioned Gerrard has the bigger boot in the No. 15 Wallabies race heats up for Shepherd that Sheperd is actually ahead of Gerrard.

    But the selections are null and void as they attempt to pick teams on stats then pick Mortlock on previous form not of the overwhelming stats in the favour of Cross...
    I would also point to the fact that Brownie hasn't played every game this season and not every game at #8, I'm not saying Palu isn't topping the stats, but he's been there all year, Brownie started hot and cooled off whereas Palu started ordinary and got better. You'd have legitimate claims for almost every position if you're going to allow partial stats to get in the way!....I'll do some maths and get back to you.

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    C'mon the

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    ...I'll do some maths and get back to you.

    Maths on a Friday afternoon.....well that's just crazy.

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    Lightbulb

    Do you really think they'd pick the team on the numbers only?
    Or would they look at the individuals current form, fitness (including injury) and gut instinct/coaches favourite?

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    Champion Contributor chook's Avatar
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    Oh, this one is much better than mine. It even has a pic! Good point BLR. Mods, please delete my one!

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    Player greenandgoldrugby's Avatar
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    Hey, they nicked my article!

    Even worse, they did it better!

    THEY WERE MY DAMN LIES I TELLS YER!!!!

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