Six in Six – Hooker

Over the next six days we will bring you the most in depth set of SuperCoach positional analysis that we have produced to date. Before we get started, we would like to give a MASSIVE shout out to nrlsupercoachstats.com – because quite frankly, without this brilliant source of information these previews would be far less in depth. If you haven’t yet checked it out then you are doing yourself a disservice.

As part of our analysis we have included some unofficial statistics form each players most recent trial match.However, we do not have access to what minutes they played and some stats are unknown such as offloads, et, but we have tried our best to provide you with something.

Let’s kick off our Six in Six positional analysis with hookers and blackjack. Traditionally a position with only a handful of SuperCoach options, this year is no different. But there’s a surprising amount of variance in this year’s crop, from legends to retreads, tackle machines to turnover machines. Let’s dive in.

The Heavy Artillery  

Cameron Smith ($667,400 HOK)

Despite SuperCoaches south of the border thinking he should be priced at $666k, Smith is the safest, smartest pick at the position – and it’s not close. If you don’t believe me, check out Commandment 10 for information on his historical dominance.

Smith will be in every serious team for the run home and almost never seems to get injured despite playing origins and tests on top of going deep into the finals every year. With every other hooker on this list coming with question marks heading into the season, you can just set and forget.

Note: In his most recent trial against the Cowboys, Smith produced 8 runs (33 RM), 1 tackle-break, 24 tackles and 1 error for an estimated 41 SuperCoach points (though this is likely to be a bit high given his RM).

Jake Friend ($526,300 HOK)

Priced at just under a 60 average, Friend sneaks in as a premium-priced player. Unfortunately, that average is inflated by scores of 109, 97 and 91 – not coincidentally the only three games he played without Mitchell Pearce last year.

He’ll play every game without Pearce this year, obviously, but the recruitment of Cooper Cronk ensures the ball will be out of his hands and limits any upside as a Supercoach option. He’s posted back-to-back 0.83 PPM the past two seasons, so it fair to say that what you see is what you get with Friend at this stage of his career. An option only for the run home if you want to run with dual Gun hookers.

Note: In his most recent trial against Manly, Friend produced 1 try, zero runs, 1 try assist and 35 tackles for an estimated 64 SuperCoach points.

Apisai Koroisau ($515,500 HOK)

Rumours spread like wildfire on Friday that Koroisau had won the kicking job at Manly (at least until Walker returns in round five), only for DCE to kick in the trial against the Roosters.

While goalkicking in a trial shouldn’t be considered definitive, it is a blow to Koroisau’s Supercoach value. Which is a shame, as the 25-year-old has improved every season, posting a 0.84 PPM in 2017 and flirting with genuine gun status.

Barrett seems set on a four-forward bench, which would see Koroisau’s 69-minute average increase. That may be enough to make him appealing for some Supercoaches, who would assume a solid bump on his 58 PPG into the low-60s. Priced at $150,000 less than Smith, there are certainly worse options out there.

Note: In his most recent trial against the Roosters, Koroisau produced 2 runs (22 RM) and 20 tackles for an estimated 24 SuperCoach points.

Mid-priced Madness

Issac Luke ($438,300 HOK)

Just about every Supercoach has owned Luke at some point and most would say that he disappoints more often than he delights. Luke seemed poised for a big year after a career-high 63 PPG in 2016 but instead he fell off a cliff, with his PPM plummeting from 0.89 to 0.72.

Perhaps the ultimate rocks and diamonds hooker playing for the ultimate rocks and diamonds team, Luke’s appeal as a Supercoach option is likely dependent on whether he takes over the goalkicking duties full time from Shaun Johnson, who can’t seem to shake various leg injuries.

He’s priced at a 49 average so if you’re dead set on a mid-priced hooker, you could always start with Luke and have the cash to downgrade to either Cook or Lichaa before round three if either of them fire. That’s really the best argument I can come up with, really.

Note: In his most recent trial against the Titans, Luke produced 3 runs (23 RM), 1 line-break, 1 tackle-break and 21 tackles for an estimated 39 SuperCoach points.

 Damien Cook ($378,100 HOK)

At the time of writing, few players are as hot as Cook after an excellent Charity Shield. Priced at a 42.6 average in just 47 minutes after a job share with Farah last year, Cook’s appeal comes from coach Seibold’s stated ambition to play with an 80-minute hooker.

But here’s the thing – rookie coaches say a lot of that stuff. Whether that’s “Braith Anasta would make a good fullback” – Brad Fittler, “Josh McCrone gives us the best chance to win” – Paul Macgregor or “Anyone who doesn’t listen to me gets a slapping” – Nathan Brown, rookie or new coaches often make proclamations that Supercoaches need to take with a grain of salt.

If we could trust Cook to get 80 minutes every week, he’d be a fantastic option. He has a Supercoach-friendly game (0.91 PPM) and makes the players around him better, unlike other rakes on the roster. But even if Cook gets 80 in round one, it is hard to think that it will last. Farah clearly has a strong voice in the locker room and won’t be happy playing NSW Cup. Boo.

Note: In his most recent trial against the Dragons, Cook produced 7 runs (87 RM), 1 try assist, 1 line-break assist, 1 line-break, 4 tackle-breaks and 31 tackles for an estimated 83 SuperCoach points.

Michael Lichaa ($361,900 HOK)

Lichaa is a bit of a hipster’s choice this year, for a few reasons. He played reduced minutes last year in a demoralised team and was (allegedly) told not to run the ball. But that doesn’t excuse his truly awful play for long stretches of the season, highlighted by a staggering amount of forward pass infringements from dummy half.

But there is some justified appeal – season averages of 52 and 53 coming into last year suggests a 10-point improvement on his average of 41 isn’t out of the question. That would make him an excellent early season mid-priced cash cow but you would have to play him in your 17 every week for that to be a smart decision, given that a least one cheapie hooker (below) is almost certain to make you more cash.

Take it from this Doggies fan, every Canterbury player should be a wait and see. Despite Dean Pay promising to change things up at Belmore, I’m reminded of the old saying ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’.

Note: He did not play in the most recent trial.

Cheap as Chips

Slade Griffin ($250,100 HOK & 2RF)

The former Storm, uh, stalwart has moved to the Knights and secured the starting role from Danny Levi. Never more than a bit player in Melbourne backing up Cam Smith, it’s hard to get a read on Griffin’s Supercoach potential.

His 0.89 PPM in limited minutes is promising but the sample size is small. It’s hard to get excited about him when there’s clearly a better option for your cheapie hooker slot, particularly when you’d be paying a $73k premium for the privilege.

But if Levi is nowhere to be seen in round one and Havili and Garvey are in a genuine 50/50 timeshare…Griffin might just be interesting.

Note: In the recent trial against the Eels, Griffin produced 3 runs (21 RM) and 24 tackles for an estimated 30 SuperCoach points.

Siliva Havili ($177,600 HOK)

Havili became the no-brainer choice for a cheapie hooker the moment Ricky Stuart anointed him the starter in the capital. Consistently scoring at a good rate (0.9 PPM) in about 20 minutes per game, the signs are positive that Havili can be the prince cow that was promised.

The only word of caution with this selection is that, personally, I think Garvey is a better player – and certainly more Hodgson-like – than Havili. If Stuart went with a real timeshare at hooker, rather than a 60/20 split, there’s a chance that one of the mid-priced options above could out-earn Havili. But that’s starting to go pretty far down the rabbit hole of possibilities.

Note: The Raiders did not take part in the recent round of trials.

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<3
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<3

Will there be a utility on melb bench? Will Smith go to half for Croft? Does it impact his scoring?

Tigers4life
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Tigers4life

nicee write up , i have had smith havili and then smith cook. the problem with cook is he is at an awkward price but on the other hand as an 80 min hooker he is a top 17 player. as for havili if he gets 60 min at .7 that sees an avg of 42 which would make 200k but cant play him in the 17. cook will need 80 min at .08ppm to avg 65 and make the 200k and would be a great 17th man at that price. really hard decision one side with cook the team… Read more »

RasZ
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RasZ

The other issue that causes selection headaches is that we don’t really know what’s going to happen with either player (Cook/Havili) a few rounds into the season. Cook has a new coach and the constant threat of Farah, and Havili has Garvey waiting in the wings in a team that is expected to perform, especially with the early schedule that the Raiders have. A few losses for either team and things could be shaken up very quickly. Even C.Smith has question marks if the other Smith gets named on the storm bench. If storm stomp their first couple games against… Read more »

tmann
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tmann

if you start with smith he doesn’t get traded out unless a longterm injury…

Dieharder
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If you start with Cook and it doesn’t work out, you can trade down to other options. If you have Havalli you can’t do anything if it fails.
More risk in Havalli than Cook in my opinion.

Tigers4life
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Tigers4life

Who would you want to trade down to though ?

perrin_07
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perrin_07

great writeup mate. I had koro for a long long time in my side until i did the cook/liccha combo which allowed me to bring in Jturbo

bigtimebarney
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bigtimebarney

No interest at all in McInnes ?

Pretty much guaranteed 80 minutes, 45-50+ tackles per game, has stated he’ll be looking to attack more this year in order to push his representative claims, can put the big blokes trough a hole !

If you want to save some cash to spend elsewhere by not going with Smith, surely he’s got to be an option worth considering.

Thoughts ?

vertigo
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vertigo

Farah was once the darling hooker of SC next to Smith, now he’s just like a dag on a sheep.

Piss off already.

WT00
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WT00

Good stuff, look forward to the other write ups.

simonthetiger
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simonthetiger

Does anyone think Bith might take some time of Cith….Bith looks pretty sharp.

carlosthedwarf
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Great stuff Surge. Always get a laugh thinking back to Anasta’s game at fullback.