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Rugby Magazine Positional Preview – Hooker


Not too dissimilar to our first positional article, have a read of our first team selection and strategy article here first. The same takeaways we highlighted for props are equally true for hookers:

  1. Props and Hookers are a non-premium positions, generally with players averaging just over 20, versus about 30 pts for other positions.
  2. Players that can play multiple positions, especially Prop AND Hooker should be a priority.

So, what did 2018 look like:

There’s not much to the hooker market at the minute. Anything above 20 is good, so if you can guarantee 30+ then that’s your starter and you’re then looking for the value picks.

PREMIUM

Image result for malcolm marx

Marx – the best hooker in world rugby. Try machine, great in the loose with ball in hand, and better than most 7s at turning over the ball. He’s not cheap at $317k but every penny is worth it. I’m just surprised that only 59% of managers have selected him. If he’s not your starting hooker then quite frankly you’re just trying to lose. I mean he was only the top average points scorer last year.

Codie Taylor – the only player that can get remotely close to Marx (except maybe a certain hurricane further below). The problem is he’s only marginally cheaper at $295k, but got 10 pts less per week. Great player, playing in a totally dominant side, who is great in the loose and racked up the 2nd highest attack points and 3rd highest run metres, so plenty to like, but I’m spending my premium $$$ on the guy above.

VALUE

Fitzpatrick – last years 2nd highest points scorer, playing every game. 5th highest average scorer, in large part due to the shift he put in being the 2nd highest tackler at hooker. Great value at $178k. In a Tahs team that should really walk their division he’s a great pick to back up Marx. A bit silly really that last years 2nd highest points scorer is cheap enough to be your back-up, but I’m not complaining.


Fainga’a – another Aussie hooker who’s great value. Actually a better value pick last season then Fitzpatrick and second highest average points scorer, topping even Codie Taylor. $187k is still a steal for someone to stash on the bench. Can he match his performance of last year in a questionable Brumbies side ? Probably a little more risk that Fitzy.

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Akker Van Der Merwe – love this guy, crazed little warthog. Great turn of pace and step, and racked up 325 run metres last year, ahead of Marx and a mile ahead of everyone else. Missed a couple of games and doesn’t get as many tackles in as others, which kept him out of the top 5. Still, huge upside given his ability to break the line, and $168k is stupidly cheap. Looking at the Sharks opening 5 games, this could be the guy to stash on your bench to back Marx up. Seems like a few have picked up on that as he’s been picked by 23% of managers.

RANDOM

Horie – good season last year. Listed as Hooker and Flanker. That kind of doesn’t help you much though, because you actually want to get flanker points, rather than hooker points, and Shorie invariably plays hooker. Basically he’s in the value bucket with the three guys above at his price point of $187k, but has a bit of flexibility of being able to cover at hooker. Might come in handy one week and save you having to spend points on an unnecessary transfer.

WILDCARD

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Dane Coles – simply awesome player. BUT, has basically been injured for 2 years. His game is all about his pace and creativity in the loose, and you’ve got to worry that knee and calf issues might have impacted that. He’s the most expensive hooker by a mile at $407k and given the pricing system, that price won’t come down. To justify that he’s going to have to average 10pts more than Marx. Can he do that ? I think it’s unlikely, and I think him and Ricciteli could well split time 50:50 as the ABs focus on getting Coles fit for the worldcup. High risk, high price, maybe high reward.

Brits – one of the unluckiest saffas around given who’s been ahead of him for the boks historically. Great to see him back from the UK, and a player with an incredible game in the loose. At $219k he’s not cheap. I don’t think he’ll match Marx, but the Bulls could be quite an interesting side this year. If you’ve got the $$$ then a man to have on the bench.

Uelese – so Jordan looked good to start the season last year, then got injured and got consigned to a few bench appearances. Cheap at $158k, but really I’m only picking him if $158k is all you’ve got left for your back-up hooker. Some upside and could get up there with the other Aussie value hookers, Fitzy and Fainga’a.


PROCEED WITH CARE

Creevy is one of my favourite players, but he’s on the decline and at $294k I just don’t think he justifies the price tag. We already talked about Ricciteli in the prop section, and we covered Coles above. Coles is going to get some decent game-time, which is going to hurt Ricciteli, who at $229k isn’t cheap when you look at the other options available for your back-up.

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2019, SUPER RUGBY

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