Despite the avalanche of big winning margins in recent times, the role of the goal kicker is just as important as ever.
Just ask Saints’ Corey Norman, if you can find where he’s currently hiding, or Parramatta’s Mitchell Moses.
Both players had mixed days with the boot last round, with Norman redeeming himself with a late field goal, while Moses missed a goal on full-time to see the Eels lose.
It’s a luxury to have a kicker of the calibre of Adam Reynolds, Nathan Cleary or Ruben Garrick in your side, but sometimes one kicker is not enough, and you need a back-up plan.
Souths are lucky to have Latrell Mitchell on stand-by while Melbourne have Nicho Hynes, but most sides struggle to find a second goal kicking option, and none have a third.
So, a bit of fun. Here’s a team where everyone is a first-rate goal-kicker, selected from across all teams in the competition so that there’s a player from every team, and only including players who played since 1970.
1. Eric Simms
803 goals for South Sydney
Probably the best goal kicker ever with the heavy old leather ball that felt like a medicine ball once it got wet, and using a pile of sand instead of a kicking tee.
2. Michael O’Connor
180 goals for Manly and 130 goals for St George
Rugby convert who relished the pressure of taking the kicks that mattered.
3. Mick Cronin
865 goals for Parramatta
A mark that may never be beaten. An Eels legend.
4. Ryan Girdler
581 goals for Penrith and 43 for the Illawarra Steelers
Has any other player ever kicked 17 goals against Russia in a World Cup game?
5. Ivan Cleary
553 goals all up – 303 for the Roosters, 195 for the Warriors, 50 for Manly and 8 for North Sydney
Looks like he’s passed his kicking skills to the next generation.
6. Johnathan Thurston
928 goals for the Cowboys
One of the best of all time, he also played 29 games for the Bulldogs and never got a kick?
7. Scott Prince
389 career goals – 293 for the Titans, 59 for Brisbane, 20 for Wests Tigers and 17 for the Cowboys
Goal kicking royalty.
8. Henry Tatana
156 goals for Canterbury-Bankstown and 105 goals for the St George Dragons
One of the toughest players ever to line up a kick at goal.
9. Cameron Smith
1,307 goals for Melbourne
10. Corey Parker
586 goals for the Brisbane Broncos
A club legend and now one of the few intelligent commentators on Fox.
11. David Furner
511 goals for the Canberra Raiders
A great kicker and a player not to be messed with.
12. Craig Fitzgibbon
664 goals for the Roosters, 38 for the Illawarra Steelers and 25 for St George Illawarra
A Roosters legend about to discover life as a first grade coach.
13. Steve Rogers
501 goals for the Sharks and 42 for the St George Dragons
What a player!
14. Kurt Gidley
452 goals for Newcastle
As tough as they come and a Knights legend who gave everything to his club.
15. Wayne Bartrim
413 goals for St George Dragons/St George Illawarra and 76 for the Gold Coast Seagulls
A very versatile forward.
16. Benji Marshall
415 goals for Wests Tigers
Still defying father time at South Sydney.
17. Mark Riddell
198 goals for St George Illawarra and 28 for Parramatta
Has as much fun off the field now as he did on it.
So, there they are.
Some notable omissions from the all-time goal kicker lists but I tried to include a leading kicker from each club.
The only question is, who’s taking the kicks for this side?