The Cumberland Throw

The Watchlist – Ray Stone

There is a growing thought around rugby league that Beau Scott will call time on an outstanding career at the end of either 2018 or 2019.

“Wait. Beau Scott? I came here for Ray Stone!”, I hear you protest.

You might think a player of Scott’s talent, experience, grit and complete disregard for the misery he inflicts on his opponent would be near impossible to replace. And to be honest, you’d be right. To be even more honest, Beau Scott told me he doesn’t even like you.

Yet even when Beau eventually does hang up the boots, the Parramatta Eels just might have his protege already waiting in the wings. A player who is tough as nails, takes no prisoners, and seems to almost emulate the playing style of our veteran hitman.

Enter one Raymond Stone.

“Finally.”

 

   

Hello darkness, my old friend.

 

Ray Stone is a gritty, mean, machine of a footballer. He’s an aggressive tackler, he’s known to ‘cut blokes in half’ in defence, and his hits are often creepily described as ‘bone rattling’. A stocky backrower, Stoney also has himself a huge motor, already earning impressive representative honours (including both Junior Kangaroos and Australian Schoolboys) before he’s even turned 20 years old. Despite a quiet showing at Maitland, other than the good Dr. Gower, I thought Ray Stone and Reed Mahoney were the most impressive players on the park at the Wenty trial a couple of weeks ago.

All of this makes Ray Stone seem ready made for the NRL; but I figured you’d want a closer look.

So in order to examine Ray Stone’s potential value to our NRL squad, I decided to look at a few different statistics. In the tables below, you’ll see Ray’s tackle efficiency (as a % of all tackles he made), his tackles per game numbers, and his metres per hit up. I’ve included Stoney’s statistics both from his 2017 u/20s (NYC) campaign and his 2017 Wentworthville (ISP) season, comparing them to the Eels’ 2017 individual NRL player statistics. For interest’s sake, and to somewhat illustrate some of the difference between competitions, I’ve also included Peni Terepo and Marata Niukore‘s ISP statistics (which I’ve italicised in the tables below).

The first thing that probably jumps out at you from the first table on the left is how far down Ray’s numbers are, particularly for a forward. For NRL standards, anything under 90% for anyone playing in the middle third of the park is considered sub par (sorry Rory O’Brien). As such, excuses are generally accepted for halves, centres, fullbacks and wingers who typically defend wider, against more agile attacking opposition.

But let’s dig a little deeper. Looking at that same table, and potentially as a result of being asked to make less tackles in the top grade (21.5 per game in ISP compared to 18.5 in NRL), Peni Terepo’s tackle efficiency actually improves moving from ISP to NRL (jumping from a respectable 86.1% to an impressive 95.4% respectively). Admittedly this is a very limited sample (a single player), but it might hint at a sliver of good news for Ray Stone’s NRL credentials. We can rule out Terepo’s position affecting these numbers (as it doesn’t change between the two grades), so either he applies himself considerably more in NRL (possible), or the nature of the defensive structures in ISP lead to a drop of some players’ tackle effectiveness. This second theory is further supported by the fact that Ray Stone’s NYC tackle effectiveness is another 2 percentage points lower than his ISP numbers, and the NYC is not exactly a competition that was known for resolute defensive structures. Either way, it suggests that overall, ISP tackle numbers are more an indication for tackle effectiveness, rather than an indicative measure.

In better news for Ray Ray’s prospects, let’s take a look at what’s behind door number two. In my Watchlist coverage of Marata Niukore, I didn’t actually give Marata credit for his outstanding tackling numbers in the ISP competition. Funnily enough, Ray Stone’s ISP tackling numbers are identical, both averaging a robust 29.1 tackles per game; putting each of them on par with Daniel Alvaro’s very impressive NRL numbers. Again, it would be wrong to assume that such statistics can automatically translate into the top grade, but it does give a strong indication of work rate, willingness and involvement of each player in the Wenty colours.

While I’ve got you, hats off to Danny Alvaro who lead the Eels in 2017 with 0.79 tackles for every minute he was on the park. Comparatively, other defensive stalwarts such Kaysa Pritchard, Cameron King and Nathan Brown made 0.60, 0.55 and 0.52 respectively. To give you further idea of his dominance, The Polar Express’ average would equate to more than 63 tackles a game if he were to somehow maintain it across 80 minutes. All this at a ludicrous 95.6% tackle efficiency? Good. Gosh. Man.

But I digress, and this post is supposed to be about Ray Stone; not Beau Scott, Daniel Alvaro or Peni Terepo … but since you brought up Peni Terepo again, I was surprised to notice than Ray Stone ran for ever so slightly more metres per run than Peni did in their respective ISP appearances last year. This tends to suggest that Stone’s running game would be just as at home in the top grade as Terepo’s, even if Ray was occasionally playing a little wider of the ruck, and noting that Terepo’s numbers do drop off when he makes the jump to NRL. Stoney’s numbers also again drop off a little in the NYC, making on average one metre less per run.

There’s some interesting reading in the statistics on the left, so feel free to have a look around. Once again, sorry to the friends and family of Rory O’Brien.

Yet whilst statistics tell an important story, with a player like Stone there’s a tale beyond the table. As a young forward on the rise, the ability to place himself in and around the ball and complete the one percent plays in both attack and defence is an important quality that he brings to the team. Perhaps Stone could be compared to a hybrid of Ray Price and Beau Scott – a perpetual motion hitman of sorts.

I thought it best to end this Ray Stone analysis with a couple of quotes from Sixties, remarking on his impact in pre-season training:

“Stoney is another 20s graduate enjoying his first NRL pre-season. Like Reed [Mahoney], he’s more than met the mark from a conditioning perspective. It can be challenging to meet the physical demands at the senior level but Ray has looked at home in the squad.”

“The quality that Stone has demonstrated at training is that he’s prepared to make effort on effort. It’s a valuable characteristic for a footballer to possess. Undoubtedly, the hard as nails back rower is a big part of the future of the Eels. He played a number of games of ISP last year, and I expect 2018 to be a continuation of his learning curve at that level.”

Whether that quality and effort earns him a Top 30 contract, or potentially even an NRL berth in 2018 is yet to be seen. Nonetheless, mark this kid down as another special talent coming through our ranks.

Here at the Throw, we’ll be watching.

 

Go you Eels,

Mitch.

 

If you’re interested in other editions of The Watchlist, you can read the first on Marata Niukore here, and the second on Jaeman Salmon here.

Photos courtesy of the Parramatta Eels; statistics courtesy of Champion Data.

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Jimmy Corbo
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Jimmy Corbo

In attack he reminds me of Tallis, Stone hits the defensive line with ferocity and keeps going. Could be a special player in the coming years.

Jack
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Jack

Good read, I love that style of player… I’m sure he’ll make a debut sometime this season. Until then hopefully he keeps hauling arse in isp!

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Good read Mitch. When I first saw Stone, in a game in 2016, I was astounded by his energy and go too power. Last year in a couple of other matches he was better, IIRC he played in the Junior SOO squad, and he continued that form, thing was that in those games he seemed to play well above his size and did not look that big. A couple of photo’s of him in this years training reports on the Eels site showed he had grown somewhat. On Saturday night when the no numbered players came on, I was impressed… Read more »

Parra Pete, Thurgoona
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Parra Pete, Thurgoona

Col, who was the player in the no numbered jumper that didn’t impress you?

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

PP, I believe it was Nathan Davis, while it may seem harsh there were aspects of his game that seemed as if just seemed lazy, and dawdling on the right wing. The worst part was that there was still time on the clock when the knights kicked down field on his wing, and he made no attempt to try and get to it, he was close enough and I did not see him watching the ball at all, also there were some knights chasers for it. Other than that, I remember watching him in an ISP match last year not… Read more »

parrathruandthru
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parrathruandthru

Mark Geyer tells a story about Richard Swain and that the reason his tackle counts were so high is that everybody ran at him because he didnt hurt. Stones tackle count will be mid range because attackers will learn fast not to run at him. He is still making half a dozen “cut in half” tackles a game.

Another thing about him is he came on in the U20s SoO last year as a replacement, took on QLDs big boppers who were running riot, started a fight and changed the game in NSW favour………. what were you saying about Beau Scott?

John Eel
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John Eel

Given that the Eels still have 2 spots to fill in the “Top 30” list and there being no obvious player on the market at the moment that the club may fill one or both of these positions from within.

Certainly with one due by the end of March I believe. Time is quickly running out which does not give them many options. I would have thought that Ray Stone maybe an option for this spot. This is based on my belief that Marata Niukore is already taking one of the spots.

Pou
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Pou

Niukore is indeed already in the top 30. And I agree Ray Stone is likely to take spot #29 unless we sign someone new prior to close of play tomorrow.

Milo
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Milo

Very comprehensive Mitch, and this guy looks the reel deel. We seem to have an abundance of backrowers / forwards and Ray has definitely shown his ability in the limited time at Wenty; hope to see him stick with us for years.This is the sort of player we have needed

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Good read Mitch. I hope stone makes a big impact in the ISP n force BA to pick him in the top grade.

All I here about is nikore sorry if spelling is wrong. But what sets him apart from stone ?

Give me some stats Mitch or anyone else.

#Eels4life#

Pou
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Pou

Niukore is bigger and faster. He is an edge player, and came on at centre in the Maitland trial.

Offside
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Offside

Little known fact he spent last year working with autistic kids a a school as a teachers aid. I like that as the kid can hit and hit hard but seems to be a good bloke away from footy.

Trevor Campbell
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Trevor Campbell

Great read Mitch. I really hope Stone and Mahoney stay with the Eels as, although it’s only early days, I believe they can become a dynamic pairing just like they were in the 20’s. I recall mentioning Stone and Mahoney’s perpetual motion display reminiscent of Price during their matches against the Panthers and Tigers in April last year. These two players led from the front with their relentless display as they hunted together in defence and attack. If one tackled low the other went high and they would continue with this nonstop, energised display for the whole game (Tui Afuola… Read more »