The Contenders: Hooker

The Contenders: Hooker
Author Dan Talintyre
Fri 12 Jan 2018, 01:40 PM

JACOB LIDDLE

Age: 21

NRL Games: 14

At Wests Tigers since: 2016

Ever since his memorable debut back in 2016, Jacob Liddle has had Wests Tigers fans captivated about the next long-term hooker option for the club, but two shoulder injuries saw the 21-year-old struggle to completely show that in 2017. Liddle shared the workload at hooker with Matt McIlwrick and the combination worked nicely for the majority of the season before season-ending surgery, and it seems likely that (once healthy) that combination will feature again in 2018. When both healthy, there’s great debate as to who will win the starting hooker role, but having been named in the Emerging Blues squad for 2018 as a future Origin star, Liddle is certainly destined for big things in the big time. He’ll be touch and go for Round 1, but once back, there’s no doubting that the Wyong Roos junior will leave a great impression in 2018.



MATT MCILWRICK

Age: 26

NRL Games: 52

At Wests Tigers since: 2017

Viewed as the third-string hooker in the eyes of many last year, Matt McIlwrick was one of the great surprise success stories in 2017 — winning the starting role for Round 1 and keeping his spot in the side all the way through to Round 26, when he was unfortunately ruled out with suspension. The former Raider, Rooster and Shark has seemingly found his feet at Concord under Ivan Cleary and after signing a new deal with the club, will head in to the 2018 season looking to build on what he produced last year. McIlwrick will fancy his chances at nabbing the starting spot in Round 1 should Liddle’s shoulder keep him out, but even then, it’s likely that the two will rotate heavily throughout the year and do their best to keep opposition forward packs guessing.


BENJI MARSHALL

Age: 32

NRL Games: 269

At Wests Tigers since: 2003-13, 18

While there’s no doubting Benji Marshall’s best position is in the halves, don’t be surprised to see him feature off the bench at hooker throughout the year — a role which he handled with aplomb during his time at the Brisbane Broncos. He might not be the typical hooker that clubs have, but the 32-year-old’s great passing game and fleet-footed stepping makes for a nightmare out of dummy half against tired forwards in the middle. Having Marshall on the bench would allow Cleary to carry just one other hooker in the side and also more versatility in the game (which could be a real advantage), so it’ll be interesting to see if the Premiership winner is used in this capacity throughout 2018.



PITA GODINET

Age: 30

NRL Games: 61

At Wests Tigers since: 2018

The last player “on the bus” in 2018, Pita Godinet also offers great cover at hooker having spent time in the number nine jersey throughout his career in Australia and England, as well as on the international stage for Samoa. The experienced playmaker has a sharp passing game suited to the hooking role, and could come in to contention in any position of the spine throughout 2018 due to his versatility and on-field consistency.

For mine, Liddle first pick whenever available for selection. As to rotation, Elijah to start and switch wide for subbed Aloiai after twenty odd and see how that works before exploring other options.

Interestingly Taylor not considered as a hooking option but Benji Marshall is. I’d have Taylor as a twenty minute hooking option any day of the week.

I’m a big fan of McIlwrick. Imo should be a shoe in to start. He’s no Cam Smith, but he’s a goer and is hard as nails. Reminds me of Lincoln Whithers.

Probably our weakest position. A few players could do a job but no stand-outs at hooker

.
No one is terrible at DH but no one is a possible rep player either.

When your 3rd string hooker (ET), becomes an extra backrower with a representative pedigree twenty minutes into the game, I’d say our forward stocks are looking better than I’ve seen for a long time. I think he’s a shoo in to start at hooker with Liddle or McKiller on the bench.

@:

When your 3rd string hooker (ET), becomes an extra backrower with a representative pedigree twenty minutes into the game, I’d say our forward stocks are looking better than I’ve seen for a long time. I think he’s a shoo in to start at hooker with Liddle or McKiller on the bench.

Agree with starting ET at DH for the first 20 (like he did for the Kiwi’s).
However having a hooker on the bench doesn’t make the bench look strong if you play a utility as well.

@:

Probably our weakest position. A few players could do a job but no stand-outs at hooker

.
No one is terrible at DH but no one is a possible rep player either.

Disagree TD - I think a number of positions are weaker than DH.

Liddle is definitely a future rep player and was already named in the Emerging Blues squad for 2018 as a future Origin star.

He may not play in the first couple of rounds due to shoulder recovery but why people think he cannot play 80 minutes is beyond me. Once he comes back, a full preseason behind him and the experience of last year and now knowing what to expect in the NRL - there will be no stopping him.

He is sharp and very quick from the PTB, runs when he can do some good, a good thinker as to where the ball is needed and a very good defender in the middle.

McIlwrick, Godinet etc. will need to find new positions or get used to ISP in 2018.

DH are just different initials for JL - watch him make the position his own this year.

Just a Liddle bit of Jacob will improve us heaps.

Not many hookers play 80 minutes and I can’t see Liddle doing it. He is very very raw at this point.

@:

@:

Probably our weakest position. A few players could do a job but no stand-outs at hooker

.
No one is terrible at DH but no one is a possible rep player either.

Disagree TD - I think a number of positions are weaker than DH.

Liddle is definitely a future rep player and was already named in the Emerging Blues squad for 2018 as a future Origin star.

He may not play in the first couple of rounds due to shoulder recovery but why people think he cannot play 80 minutes is beyond me. Once he comes back, a full preseason behind him and the experience of last year and now knowing what to expect in the NRL - there will be no stopping him.

He is sharp and very quick from the PTB, runs when he can do some good, a good thinker as to where the ball is needed and a very good defender in the middle.

McIlwrick, Godinet etc. will need to find new positions or get used to ISP in 2018.

DH are just different initials for JL - watch him make the position his own this year.

Just a Liddle bit of Jacob will improve us heaps.

Agreed 🙂

Liddle won’t even be there round 1, let alone start.

@:

Liddle won’t even be there round 1, let alone start.

That is what I said

“He may not play in the <big>first couple of rounds</big> due to shoulder recovery but……”

You may like to reread. 😃

@:

@:

Liddle won’t even be there round 1, let alone start.

That is what I said

“He may not play in the <big>first couple of rounds</big> due to shoulder recovery but……”

You may like to reread. 😃

You said may not. I said will not 😉

Anyone have in-depth stats for last season as to the amount of Mins Liddle started to play before his Injury.
I was thinking in a couple of games towards the end he was pushing out 65 at least.

@:

@:

Probably our weakest position. A few players could do a job but no stand-outs at hooker

.
No one is terrible at DH but no one is a possible rep player either.

Disagree TD - I think a number of positions are weaker than DH.

Liddle is definitely a future rep player and was already named in the Emerging Blues squad for 2018 as a future Origin star.

He may not play in the first couple of rounds due to shoulder recovery but why people think he cannot play 80 minutes is beyond me. Once he comes back, a full preseason behind him and the experience of last year and now knowing what to expect in the NRL - there will be no stopping him.

He is sharp and very quick from the PTB, runs when he can do some good, a good thinker as to where the ball is needed and a very good defender in the middle.

McIlwrick, Godinet etc. will need to find new positions or get used to ISP in 2018.

DH are just different initials for JL - watch him make the position his own this year.

Just a Liddle bit of Jacob will improve us heaps.

I agree Russ, Liddle should be able to play 80 once he gets used to the grind of 1st grade. In fact its essential, i hate it when we carry 2 DHs given the way forwards dominate the game these days.

I really like McKiller btw - knows when to run and is a weapon in defence. I think we are reasonably placed for this position overall.

Recent Topics

Support our community by clicking here and joining our Forum Support Scheme

Can’t log in or access your account?
Send an email to contact@weststigersforum.com and we’ll get you back online.