Rankin no stranger to dummy half
Surprise Wests Tigers back-up hooker Jordan Rankin says he spent time at hooker in the UK Super League and views himself as a jack-of-all-trades utility after a surprise spell at dummy half on Sunday after senior hooker Robbie Farah’s demotion to reserve grade.
With back-up hooker Manaia Cherrington not selected and upcoming rake Jacob Liddle unavailable due to salary cap constraints, the question of how the dummy-half role would be filled remained unclear up until kick-off, with retiring veteran Dene Halatau mid-year recruit Elijah Taylor expected to share the duties.
With two first-half injuries stretching the club’s interchanges and a number of stoppages allowing for more rests during the game, Halatau got through the bulk of Sunday’s 25-12 with Rankin providing support in attack while still defending on the wing.
Rankin told NRL.com he had slotted in at hooker for Hull FC during his stint there and isn’t fazed where on the field he’s asked to play.
“I had a few games over in England last year playing at dummy half. It’s been something we’ve been working on over the last couple of weeks and I didn’t play long there [on Sunday], I think there were a lot of stoppages in play so ‘Deano’ was able to punch out a lot more minutes than we thought,” Rankin said.
“I’m just happy to fill in wherever I need to in the team and getting the win at the end of the day is the main thing.”
Rankin said he was happy to embrace the utility role when needed.
"There was always an option to play me there," he said.
"I’d like to class myself as a bit of a utility, I can play a bit of anywhere… the club knows I can play anywhere at a pinch so to get the game time there was obviously a couple of injuries and we had a couple of forced changes through that second half so I was happy to fill in there when I needed to.
“It was only for a short amount of time but the main thing was we got the win.”
Even while playing in the middle in attack Rankin reverted to his regular wing role in defence and he said it made sense to keep those combinations intact.
“You train on the wing and in the centres all the time so I’ve got a bit of a bond there with [centre] Timmy Simona and I know what he’s thinking all the time,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ve had many tries scored on our edge this year so to keep that there it saves me having to defend in the middle as well and leave the big boys to do all the tough stuff and I just come in and do the pretty stuff in attack so it worked out well today and we’ll see what happens, maybe we might keep going.”
Hooker issues aside, the win was a massive one for the club coming, as it did, against the team directly ahead of them on the ladder coming into the round. They have now leapfrogged the Dragons to sit in 10th – a win behind the seventh-placed Titans.
“We spoke about that this week. It was probably our most important game of the year,” Rankin said.
"Definitely coming into the last five or six rounds, every win’s going to matter and every point’s going to matter.
"We knew they were going to come here with the mindset of jumping another two points ahead of us to give them a bit of a clear run at the next couple of weeks, a bit of breathing space but we did what we had to do to get the win today and we knew they were going to come out.
“Benji [Marshall] was playing his 250th game and we definitely knew he was going to come out and have a big game and he did that in the first half but we were able to nullify him in the second half and get a really decent win.”