After recent announcing a new two-year deal with the Club, Wests Tigers fans will certainly be looking to Ava Seumanufagai as a player to step up in season 2016.

With the departure of prop forward Keith Galloway to Leeds Rhinos, and the likelihood that Aaron Woods will miss several games due to State of Origin commitments, the Wellington-born forward — along with Martin Taupau — stand to reason as two key players that Wests Tigers Coach Jason Taylor will rely on heavily to lay the platform for his side in 2016.

And despite ranking ninth in the team for total tackles and seventh for total metres this year, the numbers suggest that Seumanufagai is ready to step up to another level in 2016.

Since making his first-grade debut for Wests Tigers in 2013, Seumanufagai has quickly racked up 63 NRL games in his career — testifying to the forward’s durability and weekly consistency. However, perhaps most pleasing is over that time, Seumanufagai’s output has continued to rise, with the forward bettering his production from the year previous.
 

 

Games

Tackles

Metres

T/Breaks

M/Tackles

2013

17

309 tackles

(18.2 per game)

1025 metres

(60.3m per game)

9

21

2014

23

382 tackles

(16.2 per game)

1460 metres

(63.5m per game)

21

21

2015

23

443 tackles

(19.3 per game)

2148 metres

(93.4m per game)

25

13

Statistics taken from 2015 NRL season (via NRL.com), correct as of 30/09/15.
 

Missing just one game all season, Seumanufagai’s tackles, metres and tackle breaks all rose in 2015, while his missed tackles finished at a career low of 13.  In addition to this, the forward scored his second try and ended 2015 with a career-high four linebreaks.

The reasoning behind that largely comes down to the 24-year-old’s work-rate, with his per-minute numbers putting him up there as one of the best prop forwards at the Club.

And it’s these per-minute numbers — with Galloway no longer in the side and Woods away at Origin — that could see Seumanufagai produce his best season yet in 2016.

On five occasions in 2015, Seumanufagai played more than 44 minutes, with Wests Tigers winning three of those five matches. The other two fixtures were back-and-forth losses, with the ide going down by six points to the Knights and 10 to the Sea Eagles.

Comparing him to the two other main prop forwards in the side, Woods and Galloway, Seumanufagai’s per-minute numbers tell the full story in regards to his work-rate.
 

 

Metres per minute

Minutes per run

Minutes per tackle

Woods

2.94m per minute

3.42 mins per run

1.87 mins per tackle

Galloway

2.69m per minute

3.63 mins per run

1.99 mins per tackle

Seumanufagai

2.94m per minute

2.94 mins per run

1.67 mins per tackle

Statistics taken from 2015 NRL season (via NRL.com), correct as of 30/09/15.
 

While context must be applied to the numbers above — Seumanufagai playing fewer minutes off the bench makes it easier to get through more work per-minute etc. — the numbers still highlight how important the Wainuimoata Lions junior is to his team.

Wests Tigers NRL Head Coach Jason Taylor spoke of Seumanufagai's importance to the team in 2016, calling the talented forward a "real asset" to the side.

"“Ava is a tireless worker and a real asset to have on our playing roster,” Taylor said.

“He’s only 24 years old, so I’m confident that his best football is still ahead of him and that’s really exciting for the Club.

“Ava’s re-signing was an important one for us and I’m glad that we’ve secured him at the Club for more two more seasons.”

Speaking after his signing his new deal with the Club, Seumanufagai simply stated that his desire was to play his role for the team each week — whatever is required from him.

“I don’t intentionally try to step up when guys are away or anything,” he reflected. “I just try and do my best every time I go out there on the field, and try to give my all.

“When Woodsy [Aaron Woods] goes off to Origin and that kind of thing, my minutes go up and I get to show my stuff, which is good. But it’s not something I try to do.

“I’m really glad I get to stay here at the Club — it really feels like home to me.

“I think we’re going to see some really good things at this Club in the next few years, and I’m glad that I’m going to be here to be able to see it.”

To hear more from Ava Seumanufagai on his new deal with Wests Tigers, click here.