Lions test squad predictor: Hooker

t youngs
Hooker has been one of the most open positions thus far; when the squad was announced it was difficult to pick the test starter, and while there have been some solid performances from most of the contenders, nobody has really made the position their own.

Tom Youngs

Young’s meteoric rise shows no sign of abating, standing as he does an excellent chance of at least featuring in the test matches, if not starting. The line-out demons that plagued his game earlier in the season (his first full season as a top level hooker – which makes where is now seem ludicrous) have been successfully banished, and if anything he has been the most successful at the set-piece this tour. In the scrums his lack of size has been touted as an issue, but it hasn’t seemed that way thus far, and at club level he forms part of one of the best scrummaging front rows in business. It may well be that, ironically like his brother, he is used as more of an impact sub, but there is also every chance that he will be starting come Saturday.

Verdict: possible test starter; definitely in the squad

Richard Hibbard

Hibbard is another to have had an excellent season, although given his age it can’t really be called a breakthrough in the same way as Youngs’ can. He had built up a wealth of caps without ever really stamping his authority on the Wales no.2 shirt, before this season really stepping it up and becoming the no.1 choice there. His form this tour has been good without being excellent – there have been a few issues at the line-out, although this may have more to do with his playing without Parling or O’Connell – the line-out ‘maestros’ – more often than not. Coming into the tour he was probably most people’s first choice at hooker, and despite Youngs’ excellent form that is probably still just about true.

Verdict: probable test starter

Rory Best

Best’s initial omission from the squad was met with uproar and outcry in Ireland (and even derision North of the border), while in the rest of Britain people were quietly shocked at Gatland’s preference for Hartley. Since the Northampton captain’s indiscretions, however, Best has done little in a Lions shirt to suggest that Gatland’s initial decision was wrong. Sadly the issues at the line-out that were so typical of Ireland’s struggles during the Six Nations have shown no sign of abating, while he hasn’t had the chance to get his hands on the ball as much as he would like. Given his similarity in stature to Youngs, and that the young Englishman is certainly in better form than him, it is highly unlikely that Best will feature in the first test.

Verdict: not in the test squad

Over to you – who would be your starting hooker on Saturday?

Who should start at hooker in the first test?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Pin It

9 comments on “Lions test squad predictor: Hooker

  1. A tough call, going for Hibbard. I love the fearless way he approaches the game, launching into tackles like a missile. He is a huge presence in the scrum and has managed to get his throwing under control – a very successful 6 nations with a lineout known for widely varying quality (Wales).

  2. I like both Hibbard and Youngs. Youngs puts in a good number of tackles and always has an impact with ball in hand. Hibbard is perhaps better in the scrum

    After today’s game, Gatland should be sending Best home

  3. I think we have just seen what hibbard brings to the table, but if we want a dominant lineout, its just been shown, Parling needs to play at some point

  4. Tough one. Hibbard’s been pretty good for Wales, but I’ve generally been more impressed by Youngs, in the loose he’s a workhorse and his lineout success on tour is mighty impressive. We saw in the Brumbies how much a good lineout can influence a game.

  5. I’m struggling with this one, if Youngs plays (he’s been the best Hooker this tour) then I think Corbs has to start.

    But if they want Vuni for his work around the park then would prefer Hibbard for his work in the tight.

    I’m happy with either:
    Vuni, Hibbard, Jones
    Corbs, Youngs, Jones

    A tad anxious over the scrum if we go for:
    Vuni, Youngs, Jones

  6. Trevor the Troll June 18, 2013 at 1:19 pm -

    I would call up Richard Osman from Pointless erm The Lions should be playing The All Blacks erm unless they beat them then its because the team are all injured or marooned on a desert island……….

  7. Consistent criteria at set piece. Props shore up your scrum, and Hookers have to hit their targets in the lineout. Sadly Hibbard not up to scratch. If he was I would go for his bulk in the front row, but lineout possession is so important. Youngs is the only hooker who has found his jumpers on tour. Therefore absolutely no question it has to be him.

    • Hibbard’s throwing was better today. the only one that went wring while he was on is the one where no-one got off the ground.

      Youngs has been exceptional though.

  8. seems like the consensus is pretty clear.

    Most people would be happy with either Youngs or Hibbard starting, and the other providing good impact off the bench (both Hibbard and Youngs add good dynamism off the bench).

    Best was abysmal today, i think the fact that he was chosen as captain is a pretty negative mark on the management. we all knew he was not playing good rugby, and his lineout has been VERY poor recently. i think it is a tough ask for players to look to a guy who is causing some of the problems. Once his head dropped, others began to follow suit. There was no captain on the field in this match – once best went off, there seemed to be confusion as to who was making the calls.

    I am now amazed that other home nation hookers were overlooked for Best. I bet the irish are quietly thanking their stars that best was called up.