It’s no secret that New Zealand have typically favoured ball-runners over goal-kicking supremos in the No. 10 jersey.
Not since the days of Grant Fox have the All Blacks had a sharpshooter pulling the strings from first five, with the likes of Carlos Spencer, Beauden Barrett and even Dan Carter better known for their silky playmaking skills than their ability to knock the ball between the sticks.
The logic is that creating and scoring tries contributes more points to the scoreboard than kicking goals – something which the All Blacks have proven time and time again over the last decade.
That being said, there are certainly times when the conditions or the opposition simply don’t lend to scoring tries.
The All Blacks’ 2018 end of year tour games made that abundantly clear when both England and Ireland limited New Zealand’s attacking opportunities and strangled their opportunities.
That was again the case at the World Cup, where England suffocated New Zealand of attacking ball.
Having an exemplary kicker in that semi-final match wouldn’t have made much of a difference given that the All Blacks didn’t have any field position to convert into points anyway but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes goal-kicking is going to be the deciding factor in a match.
Taking that into consideration, the latest figures quoted by Wales Online should have new All Blacks head coach Ian Foster feeling slightly uncomfortable.
South African website goalkickers.co.za tracks the performance of the game’s best and worst kickers and, after Wales Online factored in the points converted by kickers, the findings from the last decade of international football aren’t pretty for New Zealanders.
After taking into consideration all the various factors, Beauden Barrett was ranked last of the 52 players assessed while Richie Mo’unga, who took over as the All Blacks’ main kicker last year, was just 26th on the list.
That puts both players well below the likes of Dan Biggar (Wales, 2nd), Owen Farrell (England, 4th), Finn Russell (Scotland, 15th) and even Bernard Foley (Australia, 17th).
The metrics used for assessing ratings include the distance of kicks taken, the angles of the kicks and the score difference at the times of the kicks (to factor in pressure), amongst other things.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 19, 2020
Crucially, Barrett and Mo’unga also sit in second-to-last and last place on the charts for Super Rugby too.
Foster will have to make the decision whether the obvious strengths of his two playmakers’ games outweigh their lack of prowess from the tee – although New Zealand isn’t exactly flush with riches in the goalkicking department, even outside of the incumbents.
Hayden Parker and Marty Banks, who were New Zealand’s highest-ranked Super Rugby kickers, are both now in Japan – as is Dan Carter, who was well-ahead of Barrett and Mo’unga on the international list.
Damian McKenzie is 9th on the Super Rugby rankings and Jordie Barrett is not too far behind him.
Barrett, who kicked a monstrous penalty for the Hurricanes against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires earlier this year, could be the answer to NZ’s problems with the power he can generate from his right boot.
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