Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was sensational in 2019 but among all his impressive performances, he absolutely dominated one niche but important stat – in-goal escapes.
Nicoll-Klokstad proved to be one of the signings – and stories – of 2019, with his breakout season proving a key plank of the Green Machine's charge to the Telstra Premiership decider.
CNK scored 11 tries, busted 97 attempted tackles, ran 174 metres per game and ran 292 supports – all numbers that compare very favourably across the entire competition.
But his 11 in-goal escapes – or the number of times he returned the ball from his own in-goal past one or more defenders – more than doubled the NRL's next best, Eels skipper Clint Gutherson's five.
They don't happen often but it's a massive play, turning a probable goal-line drop-out and defending your own line into possession for your own side and a probable clearing kick deep into your opponent's territory.
Once a player is forced to collect the ball from their own in-goal with defenders blocking their path back to the field of play, more often than not a tackle is made that forces the drop out.
Some of the NRL's most evasive players – James Tedesco, Kalyn Ponga and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for example – managed the feat just four times all season. Only two players bettered that mark – Gutherson by one and Nicoll-Klokstad, who almost tripled that tally.
Suliasi Vunivalu and AJ Brimson each managed four escapes, with nine further players managing three – including CNK's Raiders teammate Jordan Rapana and Storm duo Ryan Papenhuyzen and Jahrome Hughes.
The Raiders were forced into fewer drop-outs (28) than any side other than Melbourne (27), with Souths – who had no player manage more than one in-goal escape all year – forced into the most (50).
With plenty of tight wins under their belts in 2019, who knows how many of those results may have been reversed without the huge momentum swings provided by CNK's in-goal heroics.