Scotty Stevenson: Why isn't anyone noticing Cory Jane?

Cory Jane, left, has been Mr Invisible this season while the likes of Beauden Barrett, right, and Julian Savea have led the headlines. Photo / Getty
Cory Jane, left, has been Mr Invisible this season while the likes of Beauden Barrett, right, and Julian Savea have led the headlines. Photo / Getty

It's a terrible thing to do all of the work and get none of the press, but as the Hurricanes prepare to host the Chiefs in this weekend's Super Rugby semifinal, veteran Cory Jane might well be wondering when anyone is going to pay him his dues.

It's the lack of attention that probably bothers him the most. Anyone who knows Jane knows he loves being the star of the show. He's quick with a joke, ceaselessly busts the balls of his teammates, pesters the coaching staff, and does a great line in witty repartee inside the media scrum. And yet, he's hardly had a line written about his play all year.

It probably doesn't help that the guy on the other wing has hogged the storylines, and more will doubtlessly be written about Julian Savea this week as he fights for a starting spot against the amazingly versatile Jason Woodward. It also doesn't help that last week Cory Jane made precisely no runs with the ball for precisely zero metres.

When we spoke after the game, I asked him, rather sarcastically, if he had simply decided to have the night off. He smiled and shook his head and, equally sarcastically, told me that he reckoned the rest of the team had forgotten how to pass the ball his way. And then, on a more serious note, he said it was his job to chase the kicks, so that's what he had done.

This got me to thinking about Cory Jane and his unquestionable mastery of the art of the invisible effort.

You see, Cory Jane has done plenty this year, but the things he does rarely seem to rate a mention. Maybe it's just an expectation thing. Or could it be the fact he has been around for so long we've stopped noticing him, like that vase you got from your sister, or your eldest child.

A case in point is this: Cory Jane has played 15 games for the Hurricanes this year, starting in 14 of them. In all of those games, do you know how many tries his opposites have scored? One. That's not many tries, especially when you consider his markers this year have included Nemani Nadolo, Patrick Osborne, Lwazi Mvovo, Tevita Li, Joe Tomani and the competition's leading try scorer, Courtnall Skosan.

Between them, those players have amassed 33 tries this season. Against Cory Jane, not a single one of them scored.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But give the man some credit for his defence. Of all the New Zealand wingers to have played 12 or more games this season, only Nadolo and Li can boast a better tackling percentage than Jane.

There's more, too. Against Cory Jane, left wings have averaged just 5 carries per game this season, while in the same games Jane averaged closer to seven. Only twice this season - against Tevita Li in round 16 and against Lwazi Mvovo last weekend - has an opponent gained more metres with the ball.

Here's another: Cory Jane has faced eleven different starting left wingers this season who, combined, have thrown 105 offloads during the season. The combined number of offloads thrown by these same players against Cory Jane? One.

So what is it about this guy? Could it be he invariably knows where to be on the field? His coach Chris Boyd once sad he couldn't believe how well Jane can read a game considering he can't even read the team noticeboard. That might explain why he boasts the second highest number of re-start receptions in the competition. Or why he has thrown more passes than any other winger in Super Rugby except James Lowe.

And that brings us to one of the great match ups of the weekend: The highly visible James Lowe against Mr Invisible himself Cory Jane. On the face of it, this is a mismatch. Lowe has carried more, made more metres, beaten more defenders, made more offloads, executed more kicks and scored more tries. He is one of the most talked about wingers in the competition, and rightly so.

Only problem is, you get the sense Jane wouldn't mind a bit of attention. And this weekend is definitely a good time to remind people that some praise is a little bit overdue.

- NZ Herald

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