12th October 2018, 07:00 | super_league
Since their debuts in 2007 and 2008 respectively, Stefan Ratchford and Sam Tomkins have represented a revolution in the full-back position.
Both equally adept at playing in the halves or backs, the two have expanded what is expected of a full-back. With the Grand Final set to be a nip and tuck battle between two sides looking for the edge, Ratchford and Tomkins could be key.
Pivotal to picking the lock in defence, Ratchford drifts into the line have become a staple of Warrington’s attacking play since he took the jersey from Brett Hodgson. He has registered 15 tries this year and 19 assists, proving his worth to Wire’s attack.
Similarly, Sam Tomkins has been a key creative fulcrum for the Cherry & Whites this year, playing at stand-off and full-back showing his ability to register tries and assists for his side. He has had a hand in 28 tries this season, scoring 10 and assisting 18.
Ratchford, however, has made more than double the yards in 2018 – beating Tomkins’ 1311 metres to his 3441. He also has nearly double the average metres per carry for his side.
Tomkins has shown significant ability to move his side up the field with his boot, with five times as many kicks. The England international produced 97 attacking kicks to Ratchford’s 19 in 2018.
Tomkins’ kicking ability, alongside teammate George Williams, has been nothing short of superb.
They have similar numbers of clean breaks, with Tomkins crossing the advantage line 15 times in 2018, Ratchford 20. However, Ratchford has been able to break out of the tackle more frequently than his Wigan counterpart, with 101 tackle busts, 25 more than Tomkins.
These numbers show the difference in styles between the two; Tomkins’ ability to turn the opposition around with the boot is unparalleled, while Ratchford possesses a unique dynamic running game. Both still contribute a huge amount to their sides attack and will be key to their respective side’s success at Old Trafford.