The lack of world class hookers seems to be very apparent especially at test level. Scrumaging and throwing seem to be left on the side as the search for athletic freaks that fit the mould of a hooker goes on. Perhaps the art of the traditional hooker has been lost. Anyway here are my top 10 hookers in world rugby at the moment.
10.Tom Youngs: The Leicster Tigers and England international is only a new kid in terms of playing hooker. Tom has only be playing hooker since 2009. This is apparent in his confidince in terms of throwing. While Youngs has great speed and hands coming from his many years playing center Youngs is not quite yet Englands first choice at hooker due to this problem although he offers a whole lot in both in the loose with his speed and in the tight with his emmense power.
9.Schalk Brits: The South African and Saracens hooker is what many feel the new breed of hooker should look and play like. He is lighting quick and has the footwork of a winger. He racks up carry after carry in his stats as he is very comfortable with ball in hand but can very often be seen lingering out with the backs. The lack of work done in the tight is a huge let down for Brits. This is the reason he doesnt often play for the Springboks and is sometimes left sidelined for Saracens.
8.Richard Hibbard: Big man Richard Hibbard can often be found trundelling over squemish defenders for both Wales and Glouster. Hibbard is a massive ball carrier who doesnt look to jink and jive like Shalk Brits but opts for a more direct approach often ruuning through defenders and battering them with his trademark big tackles. Hibbard found himself sidelined for a large part of this years six nations campaign due what I can only assume is his hot and cold lineout throwing and what can sometimes appear lazy in his work rate and urgency to hit breakdowns. Hibbard is quite frankly hot and cold but can be the best hooker in the world on his day but can also look like a lazy basher at times. One thing is for sure I throughly enjoy looking at his long blonde locks waving as he smashes someone.
7.Adriaan Strauss: The Blue Bulls beast is partial to a bone shuddering hit from time to time due to his massive 112kg frame but the not so gentle giant is best known for his ball playing skills and soft hands. He often plays second fiddle to Bismark Du Plessis when it comes to Springbok selection. Strauss is often critised for not working around the tight and maybe not having the same work ethic as his rival Bismark but still posses a threating ball handling and carrying skills which put fear in to most defenders eyes.
6.Guilhem Guirado: The French international and Champions Cup winning hooker with Toulon has had an immaculate season with both club and country. Guirado seems to have really nailed down his spot in the French team which is no easy task with San Andre as head coach. He is one of the few traditional hookers left. His work in the tight in workman like and is a huge advantage to both Toulon and France to have at the set piece. Guirado is comfortable in the loose as well as the tight but in close quarters is when he really comes into his own. Will become a great in years to come in my opinion.
5.Stephen Moore: The Brumbies and Australian veteran still manages to impress, when fit at the age of 32. I havent seen Moore on the international stage in quite a while and Australia have definitly missed his presence. Moore brings extreme effiency along with great leadership and expierence having captained Australia and The Brumbies on numerous occasions. Im yet to see Moore lag behind due to age but he has a colloasal task to get back into a brutally competitive Ausstralian squad. When fit Moore is an extra backrow carrying, tackling and rucking as if he was a flanker. This has been a huge asset to Australia through out his 92 caps.
4.Rory Best: The Ulster captain much like Moore is effectively a fourth backrow. Best applies non-stop pressure on his oppisitions ball which usually results in Best coming away with a handful of turnovers. Best is also relentless in attack, hitting breakdown after breakdown. This proves to be a huge advantage to Ulster and Ireland. His relentless work has seen him win 82 caps for Ireland and at 32 doesnt seem to be slowing down. Best does present a problem for any team as his throwing seems to be huge a gamble. Best’s throwing helped Ireland win plenty of clean ball throught their succsessful six nations campaign but it also misfired whilst facing Wales and resulted in Ireland having a rough day at the office and an Irish loss.
3.Dane Coles: The successor to Andrew Hore and Kevin Mealamu’s usual two jersey is the dynamic Dane Coles. Coles possess many talents. Coles isnt as good as either Mealamu or Hore in their hay day but still is a potent threat to any team. Coles has managed to translate his form from his rugby at the Hurricanes to the All Blacks in his recent test’s. Cole’s is a great ball playing hooker as many of the Kiwi pack are he is also a venemous tackler chopping anything that comes down his channel.
His speed and skill in the loose is only internationally rivaled by Tom Youngs. Coles also hits rucks whit a ferocity that not many can match. Coles want to play for the All Blacks is very apparent in how he plays from test to test. Coles is not yet up to All Black standard at the set piece but lets give this talent time.
2.Dylan Hartley: The Northhampton skipper is often known for his antics but is rarely recognised for how he has mastered his craft as a hooker. The traditional style hooker is absolutely brilliant at the set piece. A powerful and technical scrumager and a technical throw are two things that he possess in his arsenal. The speed which hits breakdowns is monumental blowing away any threat. Hartley’s aggression has its good and its highly publiscised bad but when used to absolutely obliterate his oppisition its most effective for both England and Northhampton.If Hartley was to clean up his act I could see him as future England captain.
1.Bismark Du Plesiss: The Sharks and Springboks batteringram is not be messed with. Bismark possess nearly every possible attribute you would need. The Sharks enforcer puts fear into the oppisitions sheepish eyes as he barges over tackler’s with ball in hand and smashes ball carries whist in defence. Bismarks sheer size and strenght is his biggest attribute making him a massive tackler,carrier,scrumager and simply fantastic to watch at the breakdown. His set piece doesnt fall down either though he is the best scrumager at hooker in the world closely rivaled by Hartley and rarely misses a throw. Bismark sometimes slips in and out of form but is sublime when in form. A true enforcer.