NRL 2021: Sharpest and Sloppiest Goal Kickers after Round 7

Last year, the NRL True Kicker Ratings were introduced on Stats Insider and at NRL.com, showcasing a different way of thinking about, and ultimately evaluating, the best Goal Kickers in the league.

Today, we're delighted to add this game-changing analytical tool to our website with the launch of the NRL True Kicker Ratings page. This data-driven tool enables us to evaluate how many points a player's goal kicking has earnt (or cost) their team and lets you compare your favourite players across the 2020 and 2021 season.

What is True Kicker?

In a nutshell, True Kicker Ratings tell us how many points a player's goal kicking has earned (or cost) their team, over a set period of time, compared to the NRL average kicker - shown in the overall True Kicker Score column in the table below. 

While the True Kicker Score gives us a good gauge on just how many points a players goal kicking has earned (or cost) their team, much like a total goals leaderboard, it can be influenced by players who have attempted more shots.

*You can find a more detailed explanation of the True Kicker Rating system here.

True Kicker Ratings have been updated after Round 7.

True Kicker Leaderboard

(Min. 5 attempts)

PlayerTrue Kicker ScoreAttemptsGoalsSuccess RateExpected Success RateTrue Kicker Differential
Zac Lomax5282485.70%76.70%9.00%
Nathan Cleary4.2312580.60%73.90%6.70%
Chad Townsend4.1292379.30%72.20%7.10%
Valentine Holmes3.5231982.60%75.00%7.60%
Kodi Nikorima3.3232087.00%79.70%7.20%
Jarrod Croker2.5171588.20%80.90%7.40%
Adam Reynolds2.5372978.40%74.90%3.40%
George Williams2.18787.50%74.10%13.40%
Kyle Flanagan2.19888.90%77.40%11.40%
Jamal Fogarty2.1272385.20%81.30%3.80%
Jamayne Isaako1.8181372.20%67.30%4.90%
Reuben Garrick1.5231982.60%79.40%3.20%
Siosiua Taukeiaho1.2201575.00%72.00%3.00%
Mitchell Moses1.2322475.00%73.20%1.80%
Clinton Gutherson0.45480.00%76.20%3.80%
Stephen Crichton0.45480.00%76.40%3.60%
Adam Doueihi0.4191578.90%77.80%1.10%
Mitchell Barnett-0.3141178.60%79.80%-1.20%
Kalyn Ponga-0.69666.70%70.20%-3.50%
Latrell Mitchell-1.25360.00%71.70%-11.70%
Sam Walker-1.48675.00%84.00%-9.00%
Ryan Papenhuyzen-1.5292482.80%85.30%-2.50%
Cameron Munster-3.111654.50%68.50%-13.90%
James Tedesco-3.37342.90%66.70%-23.90%

A few points jump out from the leaderboard after seven rounds. First is St. George-Illawarra centre, Zac Lomax.

Lomax had kicked 7/7 the last time we checked in with the True Kicker Ratings, and while he hasn't been able to maintain his perfect record, his 24 goals from 28 attempts have translated into an NRL-high 5.0 True Kicker Score (TKS).

Adam Reynolds topped the list at the end of 2020 after netting the South Sydney Rabbitohs an extra 26.54 points throughout the season - considerably more than Cameron Smith's 13.39 at second. So far this year, Reynolds' actual success rate is down to 78.4% with a shank towards the end of their win over the Wests Tigers highlighting the uncharacteristic issues he's having with the boot at the moment. Still, he's inside the top ten through seven rounds, adding 2.5 extra points compared to the NRL average kicker. 'Reyno' will be sniffing around the top of the leaderboard by the end of Round 25, though.

It might be difficult for Kyle Flanagan to get back up there after finishing third last season. He added 12.08 points off the tee with the Sydney Roosters in 2020; however, with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs struggling to cross the line, he's only attempted nine kicks at goal in 2021. Flanagan's +11.4% True Kicker Differential is the second-highest in the NRL and highest of all first-choice goal kickers. The quality is still there off the tee, just not the opportunities.

The battle for the tee at the Newcastle Knights continues as both Mitch Barnett and Kalyn Ponga leave points out on the field. Barnett added an extra 2.45 points across the opening two rounds as Newcastle's primary goal kicker. However, connecting on just one of three attempts since then, his True Kicker Score has dropped to -0.3 - slightly better than Ponga's -0.6.

Ponga finished the 2020 season with the worst True Kicker Score in the NRL at -16.25. It's early days, but in connecting on just six of his nine attempts (66.7%), Ponga's differential is walking a similar path to last season.

Interestingly after Cameron Smith and Kyle Flanagan finished second and third in True Kicker Score last season, Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters goal kickers occupy the bottom four spots on our leaderboard after seven rounds. Ryan Papenhuyzen's 82.8% success rate is among the best in the NRL, but at an average difficulty of 85.3%, he's left -1.5 points on the tee across his 29 attempts. Cameron Munster hasn't helped his side in Papenhuyzen's absence with a -3.1 TKS.

While Siosiua Taukeiaho roughly replicates the average goal kicker with a +1.2 TKS, Sam Walker (-1.4 TKS) and James Tedesco (-3.3 TKS) aren't maintaining that mark when the prop forward is off the field. It hasn't cost the Roosters yet, but there's a good chance goal kicking costs them two competition points at some stage this season.

The leaderboard is still skewed towards players with more shots at goal given the relatively small sample size. Still, we can already see which teams are likely to benefit from points off the tee this season and those that need to improve if they're to avoid losing close games due to missed kicks at goal.

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Jason Oliver

As far as Jason is concerned, there is no better time of year than March through June. An overlap of the NBA and NRL seasons offer up daily opportunities to find an edge and fund the ever-increasing number of sports streaming services he subscribes to. If there's an underdog worth taking in either code, he'll be on it.

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