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The stats files: Why handball happy Shane Mumford is an AFL outlier

Peter Ryan  August 2, 2016 5:21 PM

HANDBALL-HAPPY Giant Shane Mumford fell one short of creating a modern day record against Richmond on Saturday when he recorded 16 handballs without kicking the ball.

Fremantle's Aaron Sandilands holds the record (tallied since 1999), having gone one better when he dished off the football by hand 17 times without a kick against Collingwood in round 13, 2015.

Teammate Heath Shaw robbed Mumford of the record, snatching the ball from the big man's hands before he could dish off handball No.17. 

It was the 12th time ruckman Mumford had gone kickless in 145 games.

He also passed his previous highest tally of handballs without a kick, which came against Collingwood when he had 14 handballs while playing for the Sydney Swans in round 20, 2012.

Mumford's propensity to handball rather than kick means he has had just 36 kicks in 17 games this season, an average of just over two per game.

The big Giant has only once had 10 kicks or more in a game, having sunk the slipper into the football 11 times in round one, 2013 when he played for the Swans against GWS.

Kicks have made up just 27.9 per cent of Mumford's career disposals – 457 kicks and 1179 handballs – making him the current player with the lowest kick to handball ratio.

What makes Mumford such a Giant presence however is his desperation to swat opposition midfielders like flies as they charge out of stoppages.

He has had more tackles than kicks in every game this season (his five kicks against Collingwood are his most in one game in 2016), recording his 700th career tackle when he wrapped his arms around an unfortunate Tiger late in the game on Saturday.

Not only is Mumford's presence around the ball significant, his capacity to get the ball is comparable to the game's other premier ruckmen, having fed off 155 handballs for the season.

That stops Mumford's kick to handball ratio from being an issue, with the Giants midfielders at his feet relishing the chance to fly past the big man to create run and add to their possession tallies.

The biggest beneficiaries of his habit of feeding off the footy have been Dylan Shiel (18 handballs received this season), Stephen Coniglio (18), Tom Scully (13), Josh Kelly and Zac Williams (11 each), all runners who use the ball well.

It's not as though Mumford is a bad kick, he is just a clever user of the ball  

He has kicked a goal from 10 per cent of his kicks with 45 goals in his career, and has been smart enough during 2016 to only handball half the time when inside the forward 50.

Mumford has also recorded a kicking efficiency of 77.8 per cent this season, with his preference to kick long to a contest showing he understands his limitations.

Mumford was the only player in round 19 not to record a kick, although Geelong champion Joel Selwood went to half-time against the Western Bulldogs with nine handballs and no kicks next to his name.

It shows even the best can find it hard to get their feet to the football.

And Mumford is now among the best.

Playing for his third club, and arguably the most vital player to any of the premiership fancies' chances of winning a flag, Mumford is no longer finding his feet.

He's just a very, very handy player. 

STATS QUIRK OF THE WEEK: Richmond failed to kick a goal from a stoppage for the first time since round 22, 2012 on Saturday against Greater Western Sydney when it scored 0.4 (4) from stoppages. It was the seventh time this season a team has failed to score a goal from a stoppage in a game.

• Read more from the Stats Files

Stats supplied by Champion Data