In this series, we’ll be delving into the statistics of two different players in the NRL competition, analysing the duo, and asking the tough question – who would you rather have?
Today, we’ll be analysing Melbourne wingers Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu.
The Storm arguably possess one of the most dangerous back three’s in the competition between Addo-Carr, Vunivalu, and young custodian Ryan Papenhuyzen, with speed pouring out their backside and class aplenty.
Funnily enough, Addo-Carr and Vunivalu debuted in the same NRL game – on opposite teams!
Vunivalu ran out in jersey 22 for Melbourne at Leichardt in early 2016, scoring a try in his first minute of first-grade on the right wing.
And Addo-Carr? Well he ran out on the right wing for the Wests Tigers – in jersey 22!
If you thought ‘The Fox’ was jealous of his opposite debutant scoring on debut, he wasn’t for long, crossing for his own maiden NRL try just five minutes later.
While the game was a lot tighter than the odds suggested, going to golden point, though it was Suliasi that went home a winner that day, but neither winger knew what significance the other would have to the other, winning their first NRL premiership together just 18 months later.
So let’s have a look at some stats.
NRL games: 86
NRL tries: 63
Strike rate: 0.73 tries per game
2019 average metres: 2,895m (125.9m per game)
Rep honours: 6 x games for NSW, 2 x games for Australia, 2 x games for Indigenous All Stars, 1x game for NSW City
Pro: His speed and his energy, Addo-Carr is one of the quickest players in the competition, and brings a fun demeanour to a team off-field. He’s virtually uncatchable in broken play (unless your name is Phillip Sami), and he doesn’t quit regardless of the scoreline.
Con: His hands. Addo-Carr does have the odd handling error in his game, and while most wingers achilles heel is the high ball, the Fox’s is the ball along the turf. The bouncing footy has wreaked some havoc for Addo-Carr, most notably his blunder late in last year’s semi against Canberra, gifting John Bateman the winning try.
NRL games: 96
NRL tries: 74
Strike rate: 0.77 tries per game
2019 average metres: 2,877m (119.9m per game)
Rep honours: 10 x games for Fiji
Pro: Competitiveness and will to win. Between the time when the opening siren rings to the 80th minute, Vunivalu is a beast who contests every catch, chases every kick and puts his force into every tackle, true never say die attitude that has Craig Bellamy’s fingerprints all over it.
Con: Competitiveness and will to win. Vunivalu wants to win so bad he can cross the line at time, and is susceptible to giving away a penalty or starting a push and shove when things don’t go the winger’s way on the field. Major chink in the armour.
Verdict: Two of the classier wingers in the competition who can finish as good as anyone, and ensure you get exactly what you asked for on game day. In terms of age and strike rate, the two are awfully similar, and while you do lose Addo-Carr during the Origin period, you’re more likely to lose Vunivalu to suspension than Addo-Carr.
As former Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson would say, ‘speed is the one trait you can’t coach into someone’, and on top of Addo-Carr’s blistering pace, you know he isn’t going to rattle any feathers and in fact deliver a more fun environment for team mates, giving the Kangaroo’s winger an edge in this one. Josh Addo-Carr.