Yesterday via the Niche Cache's Facebook and Twitter, I posted some statistical sugar regarding Leeson Ah Mau and some rather impressive 'tackle efficiency' numbers. These tackling stats came via NRL.com and in isolation, they don't really mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of an NRL season with so many variables. My intrigue though was perked by seeing the second best Papatoetoe Panther, Ah Mau's name high on that list because it's in alignment with his overall efficiency as a middle forward.
To some extent it was good idea to share such ideas directly through social media as we get some likes, retweets and superficial bullkaka. I probably won't do such a thing again though as there are layers of nuance at play in such statistical observations, nuances that need explaining and at the Niche Cache, our job is to explain that shit; paint the whole picture and not just hunt social media superficial endorphin highs.
Statistics in this part of the world aren't quite what we are used to in more analytical sports over in that big country with many issues, but we are getting there. This effective tackle stuff from NRL.com is useful and as you can see, the effective tackle percentage is partnered with the number of tackles made by that player. With this in mind, Jake Trbojevic's numbers stand out as he's made over 1,000 tackles with an effective tackle percentage over 93 percent and even more so the work of dummy half Cameron McInnes who shares the same percentage as Trbojevic with 100 more tackles and he's a little bloke.
With the number of tackles and the effective percentage, you should be able to sift through this information to come to your own conclusions as to who is the best. You shouldn't need me, or anyone else to tell you that it's easier to be more effective with tackling when your making less than 200 tackle. That's some Senior Seagent Obvious type of shit.
Perhaps a better story is told when this effective tackle percentage is narrowed down to players with more than 900 tackles, or a few other statistical explorations. I'm not here to suss that out though, I'm here to suss out Ah Mau and there is a need to do so because his efficiency in attack and defence is notable.
As you can see, Ah Mau only made 570 tackles and this leaves Ah Mau outside the top-50 in tackles made. That's not a whole lot, although it aligns with his average minutes/game via as per Fox Sports Lab (there's a weird difference between NRL and Fox in many stats). Ah Mau averaged 40.7mins/game and understandably averaged the least tackles/game of all Dragons forwards who played 19+ games (20.5).
Ah Mau's efficiency in attack though, as with his defence, is kinda amazing. In the fewest minutes of those main Dragons forwards, Ah Mau's average run metres were 2nd to Paul Vaughan. Ah Mau averaged 105m from 10.9 runs, which boils down to 9.63m/run and anything around 10m/run is beastly.
On top of those impressive numbers, Ah Mau averaged 2 tackle busts/game which had him 3rd in all Dragons forwards and 0.8 offloads/game which had him tied for 3rd with Vaughan. So right now, we know Ah Mau was one of the most efficient tacklers in the NRL and was also in the upper echelon in terms of efficiency with the footy for the Dragons.
Then comes Ah Mau averaging 0.2 errors/game and 0.3 penalties conceded/game. This has Ah Mau as the safest/most disciplined of the main Dragons forwards and for someone to average almost an offload a game with barely any errors is slick. Let alone also barely conceding a penalty ... and his tackling ... and impact running the footy.
Not only was it a lovely move for Ah Mau to return to his first NRL club in his hometown, I'd suggest that Aotearoa Warriors did their research in what Ah Mau offers. We have clear evidence of Warriors decision-makers wanting to be efficient themselves, with their salary cap and 2018's stats point to Ah Mau being a decent purchase considering I don't think he would have cost a lot of dosh.
Ah Mau isn't replacing James Gavet exactly, although it's a convenient comparison as they will play similar roles. Here is a comparison of their game averages as per Fox Sports Lab...
Ah Mau: 40.7mins, 10.9runs, 105m, 2 tackle busts, 0.8offloads, 20.5 tackles/0.5miss, 0.2errors, 0.3 pens conceded.
Gavet: 37.5mins, 10.2runs, 92m, 0.5tb, 0.5offloads, 16.9tackles/1.9miss, 0.4errors, 0.4 pens conceded.
Again, none of this is perfect; whether it be the difference in Fox vs NRL stats or the fact that Ah Mau isn't an exact replacement for Gavet. That comparison is interesting though and to some extent you can view Ah Mau as an upgrade on Gavet based on those stats. Ah Mau's mobility and skill, along with defensive efficiency suits the Warriors style of play that we saw in 2018. The possibility that Ah Mau could also add to this Warriors forward pack shouldn't be overlooked as he's clearly been recruited with a job to do.
While there have been ideas floating around about kiwis and former Warriors coming being brought back to Aotearoa because they are easy targets to bring home, all the recruits under Stephen Kearney and now Brian Smith offer something either unique or of high quality. Ah Mau is no different and all signs suggest that he's going to have an impact in returning to the Warriors whanau.
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Peace and love 27.