Who is the best winger in the Super League by the numbers?

We’re well over a quarter of the way through the Super League season now and reaching the point where the table is beginning to take shape. The top sides are beginning to pull away whilst at the bottom end anxiety is beginning to creep in. But, just as the league table is taking shape, we’re beginning to see who the star performers of 2022 will be.

With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at one winger from every Super League team and ranked them against each other where key stats are concerned to see if we can determine the league’s best winger in 2022.

Here’s the all important stats:

Tries:
Tommy Makinson: 11
Ken Sio: 11
Josh Charnley: 8
Greg Eden: 7
Tom Johnstone: 7
Ryan Hall: 5
Ash Handley: 5
Jermaine McGillvary: 4
Matty Russell: 4
Adam Swift: 3
Liam Marshall: 3
Tom Davies: 1

Tries per game:
Tommy Makinson: 1.6
Ken Sio: 1.6
Greg Eden: 1.4
Josh Charnley: 1.33
Tom Johnstone: 0.88
Ryan Hall: 0.63
Ash Handley: 0.63
Jermaine McGillvary: 0.57
Matty Russell: 0.5
Liam Marshall: 0.43
Adam Swift: 0.375
Tom Davies: 0.14

Metres:
Tommy Makinson: 1326 (highest in the competition from any player)
Ash Handley: 1063
Tom Johnstone: 1063
Ryan Hall: 1056
Tom Davies: 1040
Ken Sio: 988
Jermain McGillvary: 918
Adam Swift: 879
Matty Russell: 834
Greg Eden: 644
Liam Marshall: 589
Josh Charnley: 425

Average gain:
Tommy Makinson: 10.61 metres per carry
Ken Sio: 9.88 metres per carry
Tom Johnstone: 9.49 metres per carry
Jermaine McGillvary: 9.18 metres per carry
Greg Eden: 9.07 metres per carry
Tom Davies: 8.52 metres per carry
Ash Handley: 8.44 metres per carry
Ryan Hall: 8.06 metres per carry
Adam Swift: 7.85 metres per carry
Matty Russell: 7.51 metres per carry
Liam Marshall: 7.27 metres per carry
Josh Charnley: 6.44 metres per carry

Clean Breaks:
Tommy Makinson: 14 (highest in the competition from any player)
Tom Johnstone: 11
Greg Eden: 10
Ryan Hall: 10
Adam Swift: 7
Ash Handley: 5
Ken Sio: 5
Matty Russell: 5
Josh Charnley: 5
Jermaine McGillvary: 4
Tom Davies: 3
Liam Marshall: 2

Tackle Busts:
Matty Russell: 39 (highest in the competition from any player)
Tom Johnstone: 36
Tommy Makinson: 32
Ryan Hall: 22
Ash Handley: 20
Jermaine McGillvary: 19
Greg Eden: 15
Adam Swift: 15
Tom Davies: 14
Ken Sio: 13
Liam Marshall: 10
Josh Charnley: 8

Missed Tackles:
Ken Sio: 10
Tom Davies: 9
Adam Swift: 7
Tommy Makinson: 7
Tom Johnstone: 7
Ryan Hall: 6
Ash Handley: 6
Matty Russell: 5
Liam Marshall: 5
Jermaine McGillvary: 3
Greg Eden: 3
Josh Charnley: 2

Errors:
Jermaine McGillvary: 10
Tom Johnstone: 9
Ash Handley: 8
Tommy Makinson: 8
Matty Russell: 8
Adam Swift: 7
Ryan Hall: 7
Ken Sio: 7
Greg Eden: 6
Josh Charnley: 4
Liam Marshall: 4
Tom Davies: 2

Breakdown:

One player leads the way in five different categories and unsurprisingly that’s St Helens’ Tommy Makinson. As the league’s joint top scorer with 11 tries he’s not only averaging over a try per game but he’s nailing the main thing you’d expect from a winger and that’s getting over the whitewash.

But there are other areas of his game which make for good reading if you’re a Saints fan. No player in any position has made more metres or clean breaks than the 2018 Golden Boot winner and he also leads the wingers in terms of average gain too demonstrating how he always gets St Helens on the front foot at the start of sets – a key facet of the way they play.

He’s not perfect, no one is, and is guilty of eight errors this season and seven missed tackles and it seems the average for wingers in these departments is about one per game showing the stress wingers are put under as they’re targeted in defence and have to come away with the ball when peppered with difficult kicks.

Curiously, some wingers seem to be immune to errors however. Tom Davies has only made two demonstrating that he’s about as safe as they come. Josh Charnley is perhaps even safer however. Not only does he have the second lowest error count with four but he’s only missed two tackles all season.

Charnley’s stats – along with Wigan’s Liam Marshall – make for interesting reading as neither appear to make as many metres as their contemporaries yet are still very involved in attack.

If Charnley was a striker in football, he’s be your classic poacher as his eight tries in six games show. Unlike other modern wingers, he doesn’t appear to have that wider role and instead is there to get over the tryline again and again – something he’s very good at as he chases the accolade of being Super League’s all-time leading try scorer.

Another pursuing that achievement is Ryan Hall whose stats show that he is still a very well-rounded winger who can virtually bring you everything you might ask from someone playing that role.

Interestingly the wingers from struggling sides like Leeds, Salford, Castleford and Toulouse all seem to be performing well. Sio, similar to Charnley, scores tries for fun whilst Matty Russell has more tackle busts than anyone in the league. Greg Eden is averaging over a try per game whilst Ash Handley’s stats are around or above average in every area making him, like Hall, a very well-rounded winger.

One surprise stat was that the experienced Jermaine McGillvary has more errors to his name than any other winger included in this list. I’m sure Huddersfield fans will forgive him for that as the rest of his stats make for good reading.

It’s interesting viewing the number of tries scored by each winger this year with Tom Davies having just one to his name having scored more tries over the 2020 and 2021 seasons combined than anyone else. Meanwhile, Adam Swift, who scored with regularity last year, isn’t being afforded the same level of opportunities whilst at the other end of the spectrum the likes of Makinson, Sio, Eden, and Charnley are averaging over a try per game with Tom Johnstone not far behind as he makes a lofty number of metres – another key stat as he looks to secure a place in Shaun Wane’s England side.

Nonetheless, Makinson and Sio lead the way for tries and Makinson seems to lead the way generally with a well-rounded game that is as good as they come in plenty of areas.

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