As we continue to scout signing targets for the upcoming season, we’re back to the front row, looking at good options for Hooker. As an ex-Hooker, perhaps I am biased, but the hooker is one of the most underestimated positions in rugby. You are expected to be an obvious presence around the park, a solid scrumager, and to have an accurate lineout throw. Players who are cheap, available, and have all these skills are gold dust, and here are 5 men who could be the perfect arrival for your clubs.
Name: Ole Avei
What they offer: The 30 year old has shown such impressive performances in recent years, that he ousted Clermont hooker Ti’i Paulo from the Samoa starting XV. He is a total hooker, with a secure set piece, and standard Samoan bulk to aid the forward effort around the park.
Likelihood of Leaving: He has been at Bordeaux since 2010, and hasn’t experienced the elite European club competition yet, so perhaps he could be seeking a new challenge. He has also played at various clubs before, so is unlikely to be a ‘one club’ man.
Who should sign them: Avei is sturdy in set piece, so a team needing to sure up their scrum and lineout could really be boosted by Avei’s arrival.
Name: Augustin Creevy
Club: Worcester Warriors
What they offer: Like any Argentina hooker, the 29 year old is certainly no liability at scrum-time. However, what the number 2 really offers is an eye-opening ball carrying threat, including surging drives and even a ‘Sonny-Bill’ offload.
Likelihood of Leaving: Creevy is a very likely departure from Sixways, with the Warriors being relegated, and Creevy wanting to prepare for the 2015 world cup.
Who should sign them: Any side needing more ball carriers could certainly look to Creevy, who carries like an 8 at times.
Name: Motu Matu’u
What they offer: The Hurricanes hooker is known for his shuddering hits. His brutal bashes on Mark Gerard and Lachlan Mitchell could be heard from the touchline! He has proven to be a great impact hooker for the New Zealand franchise, but deserves a chance to get more game time.
Likelihood of Leaving: The 17stone machine has had limited opportunities for the Hurricanes, so he would surely be chomping at the bit to join a club with a number 2 jersey in reach.
Who should sign them: Matu’u is not for teams based largely on the set piece. He is more known for his work in the loose, as oppose to his set piece solidity.
Name: Scott Spurling
What they offer: Probably not a player most have heard of, but Spurling is a diamond in the rough. Spurling first came to my attention in a charity fixture, where he sidestepped Australia legend Joe Roff to score a wonder try. But in his games for Bedford, and limited chances at Saracens, the youngster showed that his acceleration and dependable all-round game is begging to be an asset for a top-side’s first XV.
Likelihood of Leaving: Consistent game-time for Saracens looks extremely unlikely for the electric number 2. He is now behind Schalk Brits, Jamie George, and most recently Jared Saunders in the pecking order of Allianz Park. This wonder-kid has England potential, and would surely leave to kick-start his career.
Who should sign them: Any English side who can promise game-time.
Name: Harry Thacker
Club: Leicester Tigers
What they offer: Like Spurling, Thacker is a young English prospect. In a couple of chances this season, Thacker showed a sublime all-round game, with his greatest asset being an exceptional work-rate.
Likelihood of Leaving: Thacker has three hookers ahead of him at Leicester in Neil Briggs, Tom Youngs, and most recently Italy international Leonardo Ghiraldini. The young England-u20 hooker is good enough to play a bigger role in a first team now, and could leave for this to happen.
Who should sign them: An English side needing a catalyst around the park who can offer Thacker what Leicester wont, game-time.