We’ve taken a look at six hookers to watch in the upcoming NRL season.
Harry Grant – Melbourne Storm
As rookie seasons go, the 23-year-old’s was one of exceptional quality as he spent the season on loan at Wests Tigers from the Storm. In a struggling side, Grant was a shining light with his hard work defensively and his dynamic service out of dummy-half proving to be greatly influential and he even earned himself a debut Queensland call-up and was again hugely instrumental in the Maroons’ game three win over the Blues. The talented number nine now returns to Melbourne and has some big shoes to fill as he his set to be the long-term replacement for Cameron Smith whose future in the game remains undecided.
Reed Mahoney – Parramatta Eels
After a breakout year in 2019, it was another solid and impressive campaign for Mahoney last season. The 22-year-old’s biggest trait seems to be his defence as he has led Parramatta in tackles throughout the last couple of seasons and going into 2021, he will again be a valuable asset as his connection with the likes of Mitch Moses and Dylan Brown will be pivotal to the Eels’ title chances.
Jayden Brailey – Newcastle Knights
The Knights had a nightmare at the number nine spot with Brailey and replacements Connor Watson and Andrew McCullough succumbing to season-ending injuries throughout the year. However, with a new season right around the corner, the former Cronulla star will mark his return from a dreaded ACL injury as he looks set to take back the reigns of Newcastle’s hooker role. The 24-year-old’s ability to dictate tempo of a game alongside his connection with players such as Mitchell Pearce, Kurt Mann and Kalyn Ponga could be crucial to the Knights’ success this year.
Josh Hodgson – Canberra Raiders
The 31-year-old may have suffered a season-ending injury after nine games last year but even when he is was on the field, he showed exactly why he is one of the best hookers in the business. The England and Great Britain international’s game management, tackling, ball stripping ability and rugby league IQ make him standout above most in his position. As a new season beckons, his return will give an extra piece of dynamism to a Canberra side that came within one game of reaching the Grand Final in 2020.
Damien Cook – South Sydney Rabbitohs
The 29-year-old continues to be as electric as ever with his blistering runs out of the dummy half position difficult for his opposition to contain while is defence is just as impressive with an average of 47 tackles per game in 2020. The Rabbitohs look to be one of the teams to watch this year and Cook’s chemistry with Cody Walker, Adam Reynolds and Latrell Mitchell could be a joy to watch this year.
Api Koroisau – Penrith Panthers
The Penrith hooker was one of the best buys of 2020 as his general influence on the game helped steer the Panthers to the Minor Premiership and an appearance in the Grand Final. The likes of Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary may have got all the headlines but Koroisau was the guy that made it all tick and was the glue that held the attack and defence together.
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