The Warriors’ current goalkicking depth is as strong as its ever been, with first choice Shaun Johnson, halfback deputy Mason Lino and third-stringer Issac Luke all above average off the tee.
But who are the sharpest shooters in Warriors history?
TWL TOP 10 – WARRIORS’ BEST GOALKICKERS BY PERCENTAGE (Minimum 20 attempts)
10. Frano Botica (1995) – 19 goals from 26 attempts (73.08%)
Former All Black Botica set a host of pointscoring records in five seasons at Wigan, kicking over 800 goals for the British club. The utility back reunited with former Wigan coach John Monie midway through the Auckland Warriors’ 1995 debut campaign and assumed the goalkicking responsibilities from Gene Ngamu, who was batting at a modest 60 percent.
Botica notched three hauls of five-plus goals in his first four games for the Warriors but suffered a season-ending knee injury in his fifth appearance. The seven-Test Kiwi returned to England with Castleford before switching back to rugby union.
9. Sione Faumuina (2002-06) – 33 goals from 44 attempts (73.33%)
A surprise inclusion in this list, gifted ball-player Faumuina was the Warriors’ first-choice goalkicker during their troubled 2004 campaign.
The back-rower/five-eighth/centre top-scored for the club that year with 68 points, including 32 goals at a 76 percent success rate. At one stage he landed 21 goals in succession without a miss.
Despite being a first-grade regular in 2005, Faumuina was relieved of the duties by Stacey Jones – a 70 percent kicker during his premiership career. After 88 games for the Warriors, Faumuina had stints with North Queensland and Castleford.
8. Tony Martin (2004-07) – 109 goals from 147 attempts (74.15%)
Underrated centre Martin did a bit of goalkicking during Melbourne’s inaugural 1998 campaign but the likes of Matt Geyer and Tasesa Lavea were preferred in subsequent seasons. And despite booting 179 goals in three seasons for London Broncos, he was used sparingly after joining the Warriors in 2004.
But following Stacey Jones’ departure Martin took over as the Warriors’ goalkicker, top-scoring with 160 points – including 68 goals at 76 percent – in 2006. Twice that season he landed nine goals in a match.
Martin started 2007 with the responsibilities, slotting 34 goals from 45 attempts, but a spell on the sidelines allowed Michael Witt to take over and go on one of the greatest goalkicking streaks in history.
7. Shaun Johnson (2011-18) – 285 goals from 383 attempts (74.41%)
The Warriors’ all-time leading scorer with 825 points, Johnson took over as the Warriors’ goalkicker in 2013 after James Maloney left the club.
Johnson’s tallies of 67 goals and 177 points in 2013 remain his career-best, while a run of 21 consecutive goals helped him attain a 75 percent success rate. He slotted nine-from-nine against Canberra and eight-from-eight against Parramatta in 2014, but his best season statistically was 2017, when he struck 45 goals from 57 attempts at 79 percent.
This year so far he has kicked 20 goals from 28 attempts at a slightly under-par 71 percent.
6. James Maloney (2010-12) – 222 goals from 294 attempts (75.51%)
One of only two Warriors to score 200 points in a season (206 in 2011) and the first player to kick 200 goals for the club, Maloney landed his first 19 shots at goal in a row after arriving in Auckland in 2010 – including eight-from-eight in a club-record-equalling 28-point haul against Brisbane.
Maloney booted 82 goals at 75 percent in 2011, none more important than the sideline conversion against Melbourne in the preliminary final that sealed the Warriors’ passage to the grand final. But two difficult misses stymied his side’s late comeback against Manly in the decider.
While his percentage at the Warriors was more than satisfactory, it pales in comparison to his record of 529 goals at 84 percent in subsequent stints with Sydney Roosters, Cronulla and Penrith.
5. Mason Lino (2015-18) – 16 goals from 21 attempts (76.19%)
Lino’s five-from-six performance proved crucial in the Warriors’ 2014 NYC grand final eclipse of the Broncos and he has been a prolific point-scorer at ISP level over the past four seasons.
Only kicking once in his first nine NRL appearances (two-from-three against Canberra last year), the halfback deputy has handled the goalkicking duties in his five NRL outings to date in 2018. He nailed seven goals from as many attempts in the 30-6 rout of the Roosters in Round 4.
4. Issac Luke (2016-18) – 46 goals from 59 attempts (77.97%)
A decent back-up during his nine-season stay at South Sydney – kicking 134 goals at 68 percent – Luke has been a top-shelf fill-in for Johnson since landing at the Warriors.
Taking over during the second half of 2016 as Johnson battled leg injuries, Luke slotted 28 goals at 82 percent – including a magnificent sideline conversion on the buzzer to send their clash with the Raiders into golden point.
The hooker managed 17 goals from 23 attempts in 2017 and had a nudge against former club Souths in Round 12, kicking one from two.
3. Ivan Cleary (2000-02) – 195 goals from 239 attempts (81.59%)
Jason Taylor’s presence prevented Ivan Cleary from displaying his goalkicking wares during two seasons at North Sydney, but his 722 points in four seasons with Sydney City (including 303 goals) featured a then-premiership-record 284 points in 1998.
Injury ruined Cleary’s initial 2000 campaign at the Warriors, but he landed 80 goals amongst a club-record 173 points in the club’s breakout 2001 season. He extended the mark in 2002 with 105 goals (at 83 percent) and 242 points – Warriors records that still stand.
Cleary equalled Gene Ngamu’s club record with 28 points against Northern Eagles in 2002, including 12-from-12 with the boot. He was just the sixth player in history to kick 12 or more goals in a first-grade match and the first since Manly legend Graham Eadie 27 years earlier. No player has managed the feat since.
2. Matthew Ridge (1997-99) – 103 goals from 124 attempts (83.06%)
Helping revolutionise the importance of goalkickers in rugby league along with a host of fellow union converts in the early-1990s, former All Black Ridge kicked 477 goals for Manly at a shade under 80 percent.
Though the abrasive Ridge’s much-hyped stint at the Warriors was a rank disappointment – plagued by injuries, suspensions, indifferent form and off-field ructions – his dead-eye goalkicking at least lived up to expectations.
The fullback bookended his troubled 1999 farewell season with 18-point hauls against the Roosters and Knights, and finished the season with 34 goals from 39 attempts (87 percent). Ridge was the first player to retire with more than 500 goals at a strike-rate of above 80 percent.
1. Michael Witt (2007-08) – 121 goals from 139 attempts (87.05%)
Few teams in premiership history have been blessed with a goalkicker in the consistently red-hot form Witt produced for the Warriors during his two-season stay in Auckland.
The former Parramatta and Manly half booted an astounding 62 goals from 67 attempts in 2007 at a then-premiership-record 92.5 percent (Penrith’s Michael Gordon set a new mark with 57 from 61 at 93.4 percent two years later).
Remarkably, Witt only took over the goalkicking duties mid-season after Tony Martin broke down with injury, but he landed his first 26 shots at goal for the Warriors in a row. His incredible accuracy was crucial to the Warriors finishing in the top four for just the second (and most recent) time in their history.
Witt regressed from superhuman to mere sharpshooter status in 2008 with 59 goals from 72 attempts at 82 percent. He left the club at the end of the season and had stints with the Otago rugby union side, Super League outfits Celtic Crusaders and London Broncos, and finally St George Illawarra in 2014.
Categories: FEATURES, Top 10s + Lists
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