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Power Rankings: Our top five southern hemisphere hookers

Power Rankings: Our top five southern hemisphere hookers

Gallo

The modern hooker must combine nerves of steel at the set-piece with relentless work around the park and an ability to wreak havoc at the breakdown.

Ahead of the Autumn Nations Series, we are counting down the best of the Southern Hemisphere contingent across every position as we prepare for several blockbuster clashes.

And after looking at the best props the south has to offer, it is now time for the hookers to come under the microscope.

1) Malcolm Marx

World Cup-winning hooker Malcolm Marx has a strong claim to being the best in the world, let alone the southern hemisphere.

He was crucial to the South Africa side that won the 2019 World Cup in Japan as an impact player off the bench and has been one of the stars of their fearsome front row ever since, moving into a starting role in 2022.

His skill while throwing into the lineout is matched only by his ability in the loose, where he is widely regarded as one of the Springbok pack’s most dangerous ball carriers and best poachers at the breakdown.

And after establishing himself as Jacques Nienaber’s first choice during the Rugby Championship, he now looks sure to produce another stunning set of displays during the Autumn Nation Series.

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2) Julián Montoya

Agustín Creevy has enjoyed a renaissance over the last season and a half, but Julián Montoya has been good enough to keep the Pumas legend out of the starting XV.

The Pumas skipper was inspirational during Argentina’s strong showing in a competitive Rugby Championship, starting all six of their games.

He is as aggressive as they come, a ferocious tackler and an outstanding operator at both the lineout and the scrum.

But like Marx, it is at the breakdown that he elevates his game to another level, with his ability to turn ball over and win penalties arguably the biggest contributing factor in Argentina’s first-ever win away against the All Blacks.

And with Argentina eager to prove that they are contenders for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, Montoya must take his form from the summer in the Autumn Nations Series.

3) Samisoni Taukei’aho

You have to be a special player to wear the number two shirt for the All Blacks.

New Zealand possess an abundance of talent ready and willing to fill the role, but in recent years Samisoni Taukei’aho has made his mark on the southern hemisphere.

The Chiefs star is a daunting proposition for any defender, with an impressive eight tries in 17 games for the All Blacks, and he is just as intimidating in defence.

With Dane Coles and Codie Taylor approaching the latter stages of their careers, Taukei’aho has stepped up as the long-term replacement thanks to his dynamic work around the park.

And for that reason, he is comfortably one of the best hookers in the Southern Hemisphere.

4) Dane Coles

He may be in the twilight of his world-class international career, but Dane Coles is still one of the best hookers the Southern Hemisphere has to offer.

While there is no question that Samisoni Taukei’aho is the man for the future, coach Ian Foster still has some big calls to make over whether Coles or Codie Taylor should join him in the 23, potentially in a starting role depending on the opponent.

Coles is one of the most experienced members of the All Blacks squad with 84 caps to his name, and his record of 20 tries in that time is simply astounding.He has achieved all there is to achieve in the game, redefining what a hooker is with his deceptive speed and skill.

Dane Coles scores his side’s second try

5) Folau Fainga’a

Folau Fainga’a was a consistent presence in Australia’s front row throughout the Rugby Championship.

He featured in four of the Wallabies’ six fixtures, impressing in the 25-17 win against South Africa.

There is plenty of competition for his shirt, with late-bloomer Dave Porecki currently in great form for the Waratahs.

But Fainga’a gets the nod ahead of his compatriots thanks to his incredible engine in the loose as well as his eye for the try line.

Honourable mentions

South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi can consider himself unlucky not to make this list having kept Marx out of the Springbok run-on side until this year. After missing time through injury, expect the 31-year-old to make a big impact on his return.

As previously mentioned, Agustin Creevy has also made a remarkable return to international rugby, with the former skipper looking back to his best in an impact role off the bench.

The Argentine scored the most tries for London Irish in the 2021/22 campaign, crossing the whitewash 18 times in all competitions.

Codie Taylor is also eminently capable of moving up this list which he might have topped a few years back, while the aforementioned Dave Porecki has made a flying start to his Test career with Australia.

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