A good kicking game is vital to a team’s success. It can get a team on top and allow them to dictate the contest.
That’s what makes stand-offs and scrum-halves so highly sought-after. More often than not it’s a halfback claiming the major individual honours whether that’s the Harry Sunderland Award or even the Man of Steel such is the importance of kicking.
Right now we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to halves with good kicking games. But who are the top 5 in-play kickers in the competition?
5. James Maloney
In 2019 Maloney almost single-handedly won State of Origin for New South Wales thanks to the quality of his organisation and kicking game. In State of Origin a good kicking game is even more important than usual such is the significance of territory to victory. Although we’ve yet to see the best of Maloney in Super League, his quality kicking game has been on show more than once and helped Catalans to a top 4 finish in 2020.
4. Jackson Hastings
To many Hastings is the best scrum-half in the competition such is the quality of his rugby smarts and creativity. His kicking game is also fantastic. It helped Salford to an unlikely Grand Final as he dictated games with the boot and was also a key aspect of Wigan’s journey to the decider last year. However, we have seen him out-kicked in big games over the last couple of years and at times he’s been played at hooker suggesting his kicking game isn’t as vital as you might think.
3. Aidan Sezer
Last year Sezer took Super League by storm. A lot of that was down to his pin-point kicking game. The ex-Canberra scrum-half is not only brilliant at kicking for territory but he is also superb at short range kicks to create tries for his teammates. He was particularly impressive against St Helens away last term. There’s a reason he was well in the running for the Man of Steel last season.
2. Marc Sneyd
When Sneyd is on song there are few halves better than the Hull FC number 7 and his back-to-back Lance Todd trophies are testament to that. His kicking game was vital to Hull’s success in the cup in 2016 and 2017 creating vital tries and giving them territorial advantages at key moments in the game. We’ve constantly seen him produce fantastic kicking games in Super League as well and he certainly isn’t shy of a 40/20. We were reminded of his quality again in Round 1 were his boot created a try for new teammate Josh Reynolds.
1. Luke Gale
Leeds struggled in 2018 and 2019 because they didn’t have the kicking game they needed following the departure of Danny McGuire. So, in 2020 they drafted in the man that so often kicked them to death at Castleford. The success of Leeds last season was fixed around the kicking game of Gale who continued to turn teams around and allow Leeds to get on top. His best kicking performance – and arguably the best kicking performance of anyone last year – came in the Challenge Cup semi-final where he kicked Wigan to pieces allowing the Rhinos to dominate possession and territory. That game also saw him nail a 40/20 and create a try with a crossfield kick – something he’s so very good at. He’s also very accustomed to a match-winning drop goal as we saw in the Challenge Cup Final. If Leeds are to achieve anything this term it’ll be down to his boot.