Marrying solidity at the scrum with accuracy at the lineout plus the ability to get around the park, the modern day hooker has plenty to do.
Here we take a look at the top three hookers in the world.
1. Dane Coles
The undisputed king of the No. 2 shirt. Excellent at the scrum, pinpoint accurate at the lineout and outstanding in the loose, the 29 year-old is the epitome of the modern day hooker. With his deft hands, side step and turn of pace, Coles could undoubtedly play in the backs.
He made an immediate impact on his provincial debut for the Wellington Lions against Otago back in 2007, coming off the bench late to score two tries.
Since making his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes in 2009, the Paraparaumu-born hooker has racked up 93 appearances and an impressive 13 tries. After playing second fiddle to ex-All Blacks No. 2 Andrew Hore for the first three years of his Super Rugby career, he took over the No. 2 shirt when Hore moved to the Highlanders in 2012.
Named as the Hurricanes skipper this year, he played a key role in the ‘Canes’ maiden Super Rugby title last month. A former New Zealand U-21 and New Zealand Maori cap, Coles made his All Black debut against Scotland in 2012. Since then he has gone on to make 41 appearances, picked up two Rugby Championship titles a coveted World Cup, and made the No. 2 shirt his own.
Interestingly, Coles states on his Hurricanes profile page that he would be a professional drummer with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers if he weren’t a professional rugby player.
2. Bismarck Du Plessis
Extremely powerful in the scrum, reliable in the lineout, and destructive with ball in hand the South African is a class act. With his raw strength over the ball, Du Plessis is also excellent at the breakdown, garnering important turnovers for his side.
Currently at French Top 14 side Montpellier, the 32-year old spent ten years at the Sharks, picking up two Curry Cup titles and becoming their most capped Super Rugby player with 117 appearances. Du Plessis would have picked up more Super Rugby caps if former Bok skipper John Smit hadn’t been at the Sharks at the same time as the Free Stater.
Like at the Sharks, he found his opportunities with the Boks limited for some time due to Smit’s presence. But he finally made his international debut off the bench against Australia in 2007. After originally being left out of the 2007 Springbok World Cup squad, Pierre Spies’ injury saw him receive a late call-up. He ended up making the bench for five of South Africa’s World Cup games, picking up a winner’s medal as South Africa won their second World Cup.
Following coach Pieter de Villiers’ decision to move Smit to tight-head in 2008 to accommodate Du Plessis in the team, the 6ft 2in, 17st 9lbs powerhouse made the green and gold shirt his own. His exceptional form the following year helped South Africa to a first Tri-Nations title since 2004.
A series win over the Lions the same year, saw him establish himself as one of the world’s best hookers. Mr. Consistency, he continued his outstanding form in the 2011 World Cup as South Africa were controversially knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Australia.
His aggressiveness has sometimes got the economics graduate into trouble. He was banned for three weeks after being found guilty of careless conduct against All Black Adam Thompson, after his hand made contact with the eyes of the Kiwi. He also received a one-month ban last year for kicking Chiefs No. 8 Michael Leitch in the face during an ill-tempered clash in Durban.
Last year saw the Free Stater impress in his third World Cup, playing in six of his team’s seven matches as South Africa were knocked out at the semi-final stages by the All Blacks.
Having been left out of his nation’s Rugby Championship squad, and with hooking rival Adriaan Strauss captain, albeit on a short-term basis, and coach Allister Coetzee reluctant to pick overseas-based players, Du Plessis’ international days appear to be numbered.
But the 79 times capped star must surely go down as one of the Bokke’s best ever hookers.
3. Agustin Creevy
Strong in the scrum, good at lineout time, and superb in the loose, the Pumas skipper is a quality operator. The dynamic 31-year-old’s excellent ball-handling skills and offloading skills saw him dubbed ‘Sony Bill Creevy’ by former club Montpellier’s fans.
Since making his pro debut in 2005, the La Plata-born star has made 51 appearances for his country and appeared in two World Cups. The 5ft 11in, 17st 5lbs star started off his career at flanker before switching to the front row on the suggestion of former Argentina coach Santiago Phelan in 2009.
Less than than a year after converting to hooker, Creevy was named in Argentina’s squad for their November Test series, serving as understudy to Argentinian legend Mario Ledesma. His amazing development was further illustrated when he made Los Pumas’ 2011 World Cup squad, appearing off the bench in all of their games.
After serving as backup to Eusebio Guinazu during the 2012 and 2013 Rugby Championship, Creevy established himself as his nation’s first choice captain, assuming the captaincy to boot.
A natural born leader, his passionate, all action style has played a vital role in Argentina’s rapid improvement at rugby’s top table, which has seen them notch up wins over Australia and South Africa.
Outstanding in their march to the 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-finals and highly impressive in his side’s current Rugby Championship campaign thus far, Creevy seems to just get better and better.
Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena
Read More About: Adriaan Strauss, Agustin Creevy, All Blacks, Argentinan rugby, biarritz, bismarck du plessis, Clermont Rugby, Dane Coles (Hurricanes), John Smit, los pumas, Mario Ledesma, montpellier, Rugby World Cup 2011, rugby world cup 2015, sharks super rugby, south africa rugby, springboks, the rugby championship, tri nations, worcester warriors, World's top 3 hookers