The Contenders – Hooker

The Contenders – Hooker

Over the coming weeks, Rabbitohs.com.au will take you through all the contenders for every jumper in the red and green’s starting 13. Every number is up for grabs, and those looking to fill the spots are as hungry as ever. Today, we give you the hookers.

The Rabbitohs have long been blessed with some of the game’s most impressive hookers, with the likes of George Piggins, Elwyn Walters, Sean Garlick and Jason Death all serving great time in the number nine jumper.

The tradition of strong hookers continues at the Club today, with three players all vying for the job that quite literally gets the ball rolling for the team.

Since 2007, the Rabbitohs have enjoyed the services of Issac Luke, a physically strong and opportunistic dummy-half who has in many ways become as much a part of the Club as the red and green which characterises it.

Pulling the number nine jersey off the Kiwi international will be no easy task, and at 26 years of age, there’s plenty of football left in him.

On the outskirts however, slowly pushing their way in are young-guns Cameron McInnes, and Fiji international Apisai Koroisau. Both are players of tremendous potential, and both are more than capable of turning on a performance worthy of a first grade spot.

“We’re very fortunate to have these boys putting in the hard work for that position,” said Rabbitohs Head Coach Michael Maguire.

“Issac has done some great things for the Club during his time here and that experience is certainly an asset when it comes to the younger boys.

“I think Cameron (McInnes) and Apisai have both shown that they’re capable and ready to step up if and when they’re needed – I think that’s healthy for us as a team.”

Issac Luke: Luke’s presence and impact on the Rabbitohs reached new heights in 2013, with the powerful hooker wrapping up a string of player of the month awards in the process, culminating in him being awarded both the Burrow Appreciation Award and the Roy Asotasi Members Choice Award at the Red and Green Ball.

Luke joined Adam Reynolds in being the only two players to play every game in the 2013 season while the hooker’s high work-rate proved to be a constant in the Rabbitohs’ season. His darts from dummy-half have become as ever-present a threat to opposition defences as any of the game’s big names by regularly amassing metres that less opportunistic teams would unknowingly see go missing.

On the back of Luke’s strong attacking game, the Rabbitohs were able to create many opportunities when the hooker took the line on, particularly when he was able to slip the ball away to a supporting player – achieved on 30 occasions during the season with 11 try assists in the process.

But while Luke’s attacking game from dummy-half can at times be the envy of oppositions, his defence has also certainly been a major feature of his and the Rabbitohs’ game, with an average of 30.3 tackles per match – the highest average in the team, with Ben Te’o the closest to him with an average of 25.9. Expect Luke to produce more of the same in 2014.

 

Apisai Koroisau: He may be a lesser-known quantity in the Rabbitohs’ side, but Apisai Koroisau is a unique candidate for the Rabbitohs’ hooking position.

Despite having not yet made his first grade debut, the man known as ‘Api’ made his international debut for Fiji at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and made quite an impression for the Bati off the bench.

The Fijian managed four appearances for the national side off the bench against Ireland, Samoa, and two matches against the Australians – the most recent seeing the little playmaker coming within a whisker of scoring his side’s only try, only to be denied by Rabbitohs teammate Greg Inglis.

With a combination of good vision, eagerness and opportunism, Koroisau stands as an obvious choice to take the place of Issac Luke should the opportunity arise.

 

Cameron McInnes: The Captain of the 2013 Rabbitohs NYC side has the potential to make a real play for the red and green number nine jersey in the coming seasons.

McInnes had a busy 2013, winning the Rabbitohs’ NYC Best and Fairest Award as well as the Player’s Player award after a remarkable season.

The live-wire hooker lead the Rabbitohs’ NYC side to a second-consecutive finals appearance
by being the competition’s top tackler with 866 tackles for the season including 56 one-on-one tackles, while also making the most dummy half line breaks in the competition with 13 from 137 dummy half runs.

He was no stranger when it came to scoring points, touching down for 12 tries and kicking 15 goals for a personal tally of 78 points for the season, and having graduated to the Club’s NRL side in 2014, expect him to make an appearance before long.