It has been an interesting 2017 for the NRL’s resident Rossdog Nathan Ross. The Newcastle Knight saw himself dropped to reserves speaking out about his contract situation before renewing his deal earlier this month. Recently Ross has switched to fullback but that hasn’t changed Newcastle’s fortunes but has it changed his form?
He started off with a bang scoring a hat-trick in Newcastle’s 32-28 defeat to St George Illawarra but hasn’t crossed the line in his four matches since and has only assisted one try. Definitely not the long-term impact coach Nathan Brown was hoping Ross to have. The Knights led at half-time in the aforementioned match and haven’t won since Round 10 when they beat Canberra 34-20.
When on the left wing Ross was able to make 141 runs totaling 1411 metres in 11 matches averaging 128 metres per week. In his past five matches at the back he has made 75 runs averaging 15 per game and but has averaged 173 metres per game.
He has made nine less tackles (29) at fullback then he did on the wing and has missed 10 tackle attempts which isn’t promising seeing he is playing at the last line of defence.
The man Ross replaced Dane Gagai moved back into the centres while in the middle of his State of Origin campaign where he won Player of the Series and his form this season suggests a move back to fullback before he heads to Redfern may work for the struggling Knights.
Gagai has made more runs, try assists, line breaks, runs, offloads, tackles, and a whopping 40 more tackle busts.
The Knights have six more matches to avoid a third consecutive wooden spoon and they are already four points behind 15th place Wests Tigers so Ross’ unconvincing form may force Brown’s hand to place him back on the wing and allow the free flowing Gagai to roam free from the back.
With that said if Ross is going to be fullback in the 2018 season he will need more than five matches to adjust to a position.