1 Ball Playing Skills
Glenn Stewart was one of the most renowned ball playing back-rowers in the NRL for many years. There are only a handful of this type of player running around in the NRL, in which Mateo is one of them. This type of player is rare, and hard to defend against. Over the last 2 seasons, Mateo passes before the line 40% of the time, Glenn Stewart did this a bit more at 60%, but only a handful do this at 50% or higher (Stewart, Paulo and Fulton). The average for back-rowers is around 25%.
2 Offloading threat
With Mateo, you get a double threat. As pointed out above, he can play before the line or through the line with an Offload. Of the ball players mentioned above (Stewart, Paulo and Fulton), none of them Offload anywhere near the rate that Mateo does. Mateo Offloads at around 17% of his runs. The others mentioned above offload at around 4-6% of their runs. Other back-rowers with a high Offloading rate include Anthony Tupou (21%) and Sonny Bill (19%), but neither of these guys play before the line as often as Mateo. This makes him quite a unique forward.
3 Creator of line Breaks and Tries
Its no good having the above skills unless it actually leads to something. For forwards who have played a minimum 15 games in the past 2 years, Mateo is ranked in the top 2 for Try assists combined with Line Break assists per minute played. His stats in this department are very similar to Sonny Bill.
A few years ago at the Eels, he was always seen as a real talent. But part of the problem was that he seemed to play 5/8 or lock at the drop of a hat. I see him as a back-rower primarily, but a guy who can slip into 5/8 if either Foran or Cherry-Evans gets injured. Manly have enough depth in the back-row to cover this type of situation either long term or in the case of a mid-game shuffle caused by injury. He might not have the kicking game of a genuine half, but both Foran and DCE could be the primary kicker should the other get injured, and there is also Ballin who can kick a bit from dummy half.
5 Work to be done
He defends moderately at just under 92% efficiency over the past 2 seasons. On top of this he is only averaging 48 minutes per game. I would expect a full offseason with Donny Singe and the training staff will whip this guy into shape. He is way too dangerous in attack to be wasted on the bench for 32 minutes every week. I believe with some serious offseason work, and get that Manly attitude into him, he can play 70 or more minutes and get his tackle efficiency up over 95%.
This signing really excites me. I think its our best signing of a known player since Jamie Lyon.
This time next year I believe people will be saying he was the buy of the year.
What do you make of this signing?