Draft positional breakdown: Hooker

The SC Spy takes an in-depth look at the shallow hooker position, and provides a selection strategy come Draft day.

Draft Breakdown Pre Season

Hooker is a very tough position because you only really have two chances at a star! 

Cook will go very early, whilst Smith for mine should be going top five given the drop down after he is off the board. 

As I write this it looks like Cam McInnes has been ruled out for 12 weeks. That makes him difficult to assess. If you can lock down a key position you may be able to stash him on the bench while you await his return. 

It will be a dynamite move come the back half of the year, but how much do you give up to get him? 

I’ll take a look at that once I have finished each position in a week or so. For now, let’s rank the top 10.

*Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a key on all SuperCoach relevant abbreviations and an explanation of tiers in Draft.

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ELITE TIER

1. DAMIEN COOK

Class. Cook is coming off season averages of 78 and 76PPG, so just get him in if you can.

In a shallow position it’s a huge boost, he could well go number one overall because of this.

2. CAMERON SMITH

In the same boat as Cook, Smith could be a huge value pick because he may not go in the top five.

This would mean you are still able to lock in a gun hooker like Smith, whilst having the ability to get someone better in the second round if he manages to slip to the 5-10 position.

Imagine a Smith and Cody Walker/Ryan Papenhuyzen 1-2 punch. Hello! Smith has only averaged below 74PPG once in the last four years, and that down year I don’t think will repeat unless father time catches him, but I’m backing him for one more great season. It’s not like he relies on speed.

It’s worth noting he averaged 80+ over the last 10 or so rounds last year with multiple tons.

Given his ability to play the majority of games, I wouldn’t even be against taking Smith second overall in the draft given the huge drop we are about to see.

UPPER TIER

3. CAMERON MCINNES (INJURED)

Unfortunately McInnes was hurt at the nines and the latest reports have him missing 12 weeks.

However, NRL Physio did confirm that many guys with the same injury in recent years have returned in 6-8 weeks, meaning he may only miss the first 2-4 rounds!

That’s huge, especially if people are scared off and he drops in your Draft.

Personally, I wouldn’t let this injury worry me too much from a Draft perspective and would still probably take him in round 2 as it stands.

Cam averaged 68PPG last year with an improved running game. He’s not in the class of the above two guys, but is still a very useful pick.

If he happens to fall to the third round given the injury scare then definitely get on without question. That would be golden.

The only other thing I would advise with McInnes is that you should lock in a reasonable backup hooker down the line if you do take him, just in case the injury doesn’t respond well.

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MIDDLE TIER

4. JOSH HODGSON

Hodgson is coming off averages of 54, 63 & 54PPG over the last three seasons. The 63PPG in 2018 was in only 11 games so it is possibly a little misleading, as he doesn’t tend to produce these sort of numbers across an entire season.

This is with the exception of 2016 where all of the Canberra side went mad. If you take him though at least you know the possibility is there.

Overall, Hodgson is an ok SuperCoach hooker without being a gun, largely due to smaller base stats and reliance on attacking numbers which won’t happen every game.

On top of this, I think his name value means he will go earlier then he should in many instances.

This season there is the chance he takes on some extra kicking duties to end sets, pending how George Williams slots in, which would possibly add a point or two to his score.

There is therefore the chance in my eyes that perhaps he gets into the high 50s, but he could also easily average 50-54PPG which is only okay.

As you can see, the drop off is huge after the top 2-3 guys are gone. If you don’t get one of them then you might as well wait until later in the Draft to lock in any of the below guys, who could average around the same as Hodgson.

5. JAZZ TEVAGA

I love Jazz and have owned him each of the last two seasons to cover the shallow hooker position.

The risk here is that he is currently injured and is not guaranteed big minutes.

However, if he can get the minutes then he can go a long way to helping you win the comp.

You won’t have to go too early on him, and with six scores over 70 in the second half of last year and averages of 58 & 57PPG in only 55MPG over the last two seasons that’s huge upside.

If you miss out on the top tier guys, I’d prefer to wait and take Jazz in the middle rounds once you have locked down some guns in other key positions.

He is also a good middle/late pick to cover backup hooker and second-row with dual position.

Essentially, when healthy he is one of my favourite Draft guys.

Just be aware his opening rounds may be a little slow until he is back to full fitness. while the injury history a slight concern also. But the potential rewards are tempting.

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6. REED MAHONEY

Reed averaged 52PPG last year in 72 minutes and it would be natural for a young guy to progress a little and average mid 50s.

This is certainly okay and you could do far worse given he is the locked in starting hooker at Parramatta.

If you find yourself needing a hooker after the dust has settled, grab Mahoney and see what improvement he has in him.

7. BRANDON SMITH

The Wheel of Cheese himself! Smith averaged 46PPG in 42MPG last season, meaning there’s serious upside there.

He is so damn good and Bellyache loves him, but who makes way for extra minutes? 

If Cameron ever got injured you would want to own him that’s for sure.

He’s worth a risk for mine in the middle/later rounds and hopefully he can average 50PPG for you with the chance of so much more. But be aware of the limitations as it currently stands.

8. VICTOR RADLEY

Radley averaged 52PPG last season while playing a mixture of lock and hooker.

Durable over his first two seasons, Victor is a safe selection to keep the points ticking over. There’s not a lot of major upside, but he’s someone to plug into your side if you are in need of a hooker. Will do a job.

9. BLAYKE BRAILEY

Brailey will also do a solid job for you. Based on 60 minutes, he would have averaged 44PPG last year. Will he improve his minutes to 70+? Will his output increase with a larger role?

There is no reason why he can’t improve his PPM, and he is the starting hooker at Cronulla with minimal competition so that safety is nice.

Maybe he can average in the 50s if he plays 60-70 minutes a game. A solid later round addition if you are stuck for options.

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10. API KOROISAU

With averages between 50-58PPG when playing bigger minutes between 2015-2018, the pedigree is there for Api to do a solid job.

He shared the duties last season with Fainu at Manly and his output this year will largely depend on the team makeup.

If you Draft after Round 1 team list Tuesday you will be able to see if there is a bench hooker in the Penrith squad.

If you don’t then you will be taking a risk and you probably can’t take Api in front of most hookers. Why you ask? Put simply, if given the minutes he will contribute well enough.

But with a history of missing games and the unknowns of the Penrith rotation, there are probably more stable options for mine then a guy whose ceiling appears to be low to high 50s with a heap of questions marks.

I could see him in front of Brailey easily enough, with injury history the swinging factor here.

OTHERS

REECE ROBSON

This is entirely down to Round 1 teams. This whole rankings list could swing based on the first team list Tuesday.

If given minutes, this guy could be a star! But that is only an if as it currently stands.

Robson averaged 43PPG in 48MPG last season. And all of that was almost entirely made up of base stats.

So if his attack arrives alongside his base numbers we are looking at a very healthy average. Keep a very close eye on the Cowboys first round team list!

JAKE TURPIN

This is tough because we have a limited sample of Turpin at hooker in the NRL.

He is undeniably talented from a real NRL perspective, but what will his minutes look like?

McCullough is still there for one. Does Seibold scrap McCullough in favour of a youth movement?

Even if he was to start at hooker and play 60 odd minutes, which would be nice, how would he go?

In 2019, Turpin started five games at hooker for an average of 40PPG in 62MPG. That’s a small sample size and he could obviously improve.

Maybe he will see more minutes with no bench hooker? There’s so many questions here.

There is definitely upside, but again the risk is real unless you are drafting with the knowledge of the Broncos round 1 team.

He’s one for a late round pick at this stage pending team news!

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CONNOR WATSON

Unfortunately, I think Connor Watson has too many question marks surrounding him, pending team list Tuesday of course.

The bloke is a talent, but with no job security I don’t see how you can afford to take him too high.

I would however look to take a late flyer and put him in a non-playing bench spot, just in case he locks down a starting role at any stage or gets extended minutes off the bench.

Just don’t go too early or you may be stuck using a 40-60 minute bench player in your starting side.

HARRY GRANT

This is a wait and see. If the transfer with the Tigers goes ahead, or if he secures a starting role any other way, then he would immediately go to five or six on this list. The swap deal looks all but off though, so he’s unlikely to warrant consideration.

WAYDE EGAN

If given the minutes he could do a job. Egan averaged 32PPG in 45MPG last season.

JAYDEN BRAILEY

Brailey averaged 46PPG in 67MPG last season. Only okay it seems heading into 2020.

SAM VERRILLS/JAKE FRIEND

Both men get in the way of each other in regards to game time. Victor Radley can also play hooker. Verrills would be my pick if you need one of the two. I’m hoping he can increase his minutes over the season pending the health of Jake Friend.

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ISAAC LUKE

With the injury news to Cam McInnes, Luke becomes an option for the first part of the year.

Bear in mind though that once McInnes returns his value will die, so you need a contingency plan.

Luke only averaged around 50PPG in the last three seasons which is semi okay, but probably not enough to grab him knowing the short term only benefit.

JAKE GRANVILLE

Granville hasn’t averaged over 50PPG since 2015. Reece Robson is now at the club, so I’d be steering clear unless you’re absolutely desperate.

MITCH REIN/NATHAN PEATS

Both aren’t great options when they are both fit and playing in the same side. If you need to take one, probably a healthy Peats is the option, but he doesn’t offer a heap.

RECAP

There is a HUGE gap between Cook/Smith and the rest. With McInnes now injured, I really think you need to lock in one of those two high up if you get the chance.

Smith at the expense of Teddy? That’s a big call, but fullbacks run pretty deep, so maybe it’s the correct option.

Potentially you could nab Smith and then Papenhuyzen second round, or Cody Walker in a shallow five-eighth position! Then add in a middle fullback later on like Charnze or similar. That I like a lot.

If you miss out on the big two then don’t rush in too hard. I’d be grabbing one of the 5-8 ranked guys above. They will do a solid job for your squad.

Happy drafting!

WHAT ARE TIERS IN SUPERCOACH DRAFT?

When referencing a tier of players this simply means a grouping of players of a particular SuperCoach ability.

The top tier is the elite. The second tier are those players who are not projected to be quite as good as the top tier. Whilst, the third or fourth tiers are getting to those players of less and less value.

The standard of players in each tier will differ depending on each position. Some positions may have some lower tier players who could contribute whilst other positions may be void of options once you get to the third or fourth tier. Each article will make this clear.

Scenario – The top tier is a group of players considered to be the best. For Halfbacks the top tier is projected to be Cleary, Cherry-Evans, Mitch Moses and Shaun Johnson.

The second tier are players like Ben Hunt, Luke Brooks, Jahrome Hughes etc. who are valuable but simply are not as good as the top tier guys, whilst a lower tier player may be someone like Ryley Jacks who has limited value due to not generally being a starting player.

SUPERCOACH TERMINOLOGY KEY

MPG = Minutes per game

PPG = Points per game

PPM = Points per minute

BPG = Base per game (point accrued in tackles + runs + missed tackles)

POD = Point of difference

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