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The Irish Hooker Situation

  • 01-11-2017 3:21pm
    #1
    Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    The Irish Hooker situation

    Every hooker at the provinces bar one, Rhys Marshall who is a project, qualifies for Ireland:

    Munster
    Mike Sherry(29) - out of contract
    Duncan Casey(26) - out of contract
    Kevin O'Byrne(26) - out of contract
    Niall Scannell(25)
    Rhys Marshall(25)
    Vincent O'Brien(21) - Academy Year 2

    Scannell/Marshall are clearly ahead of the rest, don't have anyone really pressuring them for their place at the moment. Casey seems to be relegated to AIL action only, Sherry is slowly returning from multiple injuries, O'Byrne is a decent squad player and O'Brien has yet to make much impact while in the academy.

    Connacht
    Tom McCartney(32)
    Dave Heffernan(26)
    Shane Delahunt(23) - out of contract
    Pat O'Toole(22) - out of contract

    McCartney/Heffernan are clearly ahead of the rest, don't have anyone really pressuring them for their place at the moment. Delahunt is decent squad filler, while O'Toole has yet to make an impact from what I can see. No hookers currently in their academy.

    Leinster
    Sean Cronin(31) - out of contract
    Richardt Strauss(31) - potentially out of contract
    James Tracy(26) - potentially out of contract
    Bryan Byrne(24) - potentially out of contract
    Sean McNulty(22) - Academy Year 3
    Ronan Kelleher(19) - Academy Year 1

    Cronin is clearly ahead of the others, while Tracy/Strauss battle it out for primary backup. Byrne is well behind due to poor throwing, which is saying something as none of the hookers listed are reliable lineout throwers IMO. McNulty has yet to make an impact since joining the academy, while Kelleher just joined the academy this season.

    Ulster
    Rory Best(35) - out of contract
    Rob Herring(27) - out of contract
    John Andrew(24)
    Zach McCall(22) - Academy Year 2
    Adam McBurney(21) - Academy Year 2
    Alex Clarke(19) - Academy Year 1

    Best is clearly ahead of the everyone else, Herring is a decent backup. Andrew has surprised some with his performances but if he is cut out for the very top level is in question. McCall has yet to make an impact since joining the academy, while McBurney is the big hope in the academy. Finally Clarke just joined the academy this season.

    IQ'd Hookers Abroad
    Jason Harris Wright(29) - ex Leinster/Connacht
    Niall Annett(26) - ex Ulster
    Tadhg McElroy(20) - ex Leinster

    Harris Wright has struggled with injury and is now with Bristol, a return to an irish province looks pretty doubtful. Annett seems to be doing well in a poor team with Worcester, hard to know if a return to Ireland is likely.
    McElroy just joined the Saracens academy instead of the Connacht one after a falling out with Leinster, his future is hard to predict at this stage.

    Is Hooker the weakest position depth wise in Irish rugby?
    Why can't irish rugby produce consistent lineout throwers?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 994 ✭✭✭ KBurke85


    Couple of things there.

    1) Is Cronin clearly ahead of the others in Leinster. Coaches at Leinster and International level seem to disagree.
    2) I'm not sure about describing hooker as the weakest position depth wise. Look at the amount you've named. 6-7 have been capped some are only in their mid 20s.
    3) A lot factors make up being consistent in the lineout. I don't thing there is any factor preventing Ireland from producing consistent lineout throwers.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    KBurke85 wrote: »
    Couple of things there.

    1) Is Cronin clearly ahead of the others in Leinster. Coaches at Leinster and International level seem to disagree.
    2) I'm not sure about describing hooker as the weakest position depth wise. Look at the amount you've named. 6-7 have been capped some are only in their mid 20s.
    3) A lot factors make up being consistent in the lineout. I don't thing there is any factor preventing Ireland from producing consistent lineout throwers.

    I think performances separate Cronin from the other leinster hookers.

    There is very little quality in those capped hookers. Depth is poor.

    I think quite clearly irish rugby has failed to produce consistent lineout throwers, all you have to do is watch week in and week out. Start with Ulster versus Leinster last weekend. Leinster especially have a huge weakness when it comes to lineout time and throwing the ball in, despite having a beanpole 2nd row to throw the ball to.


  • Registered Users Posts: 19,224 ✭✭✭✭ Venjur


    I have a suspicion that something is up with Cronin. Whether it's a temporary personal issue or something else I don't know, but his sudden lack of inclusion for Ireland and Leinster has given the spider senses a jinggle jangle and the absence of an explanation makes me suspect all might not be right.

    Whatever is up I hope to see him back in blue and green soon.

    Ireland have a couple of decent hookers, none brilliant and I suspect the one with the most consistent set piece contribution is the one that is going to be picked most consistently moving forward. At the moment Tracey is front runner due to injury to Scannell. Nothing I've seen from either makes me think they will ever be in the conversation for a Lions tour. Hookers are funny creatures however and that could all change in a season.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,065 ✭✭✭ ClanofLams


    I think it's largely because we only convert hookers at 18/19 or older so they have missed out on years of practice. Of the Connacht lads, O'Toole played a few different positions, Delahunt was a back row as was Heffernan. I don't know about McCartney in terms of when he started playing hooker but he did also play prop so I presume he may have started there.

    At underage lads tend to play hooker who probably don't have the necessary athleticism to be professional rugby players and your dynamic back row who does but possibly not at back row will stay there where he can do the most damage for his team.

    Not sure of any obvious solution to that. Maybe it could be highlighted that th athletic back rows can still play there and throw in to the lineout.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    Venjur wrote: »
    I have a suspicion that something is up with Cronin. Whether it's a temporary personal issue or something else I don't know, but his sudden lack of inclusion for Ireland and Leinster has given the spider senses a jinggle jangle and the absence of an explanation makes me suspect all might not be right.

    Whatever is up I hope to see him back in blue and green soon.

    Ireland have a couple of decent hookers, none brilliant and I suspect the one with the most consistent set piece contribution is the one that is going to be picked most consistently moving forward. At the moment Tracey is front runner due to injury to Scannell. Nothing I've seen from either makes me think they will ever be in the conversation for a Lions tour. Hookers are funny creatures however and that could all change in a season.

    There was an explanation, he was rested due to IRFU mandated minutes limit.

    Scannell looks the clear heir to Best and it's not close ATM.


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  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    ClanofLams wrote: »
    I think it's largely because we only convert hookers at 18/19 or older so they have missed out on years of practice. Of the Connacht lads, O'Toole played a few different positions, Delahunt was a back row as was Heffernan. I don't know about McCartney in terms of when he started playing hooker but he did also play prop so I presume he may have started there.

    At underage lads tend to play hooker who probably don't have the necessary athleticism to be professional rugby players and your dynamic back row who does but possibly not at back row will stay there where he can do the most damage for his team.

    Not sure of any obvious solution to that. Maybe it could be highlighted that th athletic back rows can still play there and throw in to the lineout.

    Delahunt was a prop.

    The late conversion is certainly a factor, combined with an inability to coach players how to throw into a lineout to a professional standard.


  • Registered Users Posts: 525 ✭✭✭ Chico Flores


    irishfan9 wrote: »
    Delahunt was a prop.

    The late conversion is certainly a factor, combined with an inability to coach players how to throw into a lineout to a professional standard.

    The annoying thing is that throwing is a technical skill - it can be practiced with good coaching too of course.

    Dynamic players like Byrne etc just can't throw.

    Sean Cronin was a centre through underage


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    The annoying thing is that throwing is a technical skill - it can be practiced with good coaching too of course.

    Dynamic players like Byrne etc just can't throw.

    Sean Cronin was a centre through underage

    Yup, shame Fogarty can't seem to coach it what so ever.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Music Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 22,299 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Dravokivich


    A line out can require 4 people though. Is it really all in the throw? What if a lifter's hand slips? or the forward set to catch it misses the timing? It can be very easy for it to appear over thrown, without it being the hookers fault. I don't think this issue is all too unique to Irish Hookers also. It feels like I'm seeing it more often in matches I'm casually watching on the TV.

    Especially with all that line dancing before the throw.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    A line out can require 4 people though. Is it really all in the throw? What if a lifter's hand slips? or the forward set to catch it misses the timing? It can be very easy for it to appear over thrown, without it being the hookers fault. I don't think this issue is all too unique to Irish Hookers also. It feels like I'm seeing it more often in matches I'm casually watching on the TV.

    and if the hooker doesn't throw it straight?


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Music Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 22,299 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Dravokivich


    irishfan9 wrote: »
    and if the hooker doesn't throw it straight?

    It's been rather windy lately.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    It's been rather windy lately.

    kickers have to factor that into their kicks, a hooker has to be able to deal with wind too.

    you can't honestly think any of leinster's hookers are highly reliable lineout throwers?

    these days I have very little confidence, despite Toner being hard to miss.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Music Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 22,299 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Dravokivich


    irishfan9 wrote: »
    kickers have to factor that into their kicks, a hooker has to be able to deal with wind too.

    Fair enough, but I'd imagine it's easier to kick harder and account for it than to throw harder. The kicker can run into the kick and angle their feet. Throwing it, all I think you've got is spin.
    irishfan9 wrote: »
    kickers have to factor that into their kicks, a hooker has to be able to deal with wind too.

    you can't honestly think any of leinster's hookers are highly reliable lineout throwers?

    these days I have very little confidence, despite Toner being hard to miss.

    I'm just asking is it just all in the throw. They were known for having hookers that didn't hook.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    Fair enough, but I'd imagine it's easier to kick harder and account for it than to throw harder. The kicker can run into the kick and angle their feet. Throwing it, all I think you've got is spin.

    which is why elite hookers are able to use their technique to throw a ball in at high speed to negate the wind.. some hooker throw bullets into the lineout, some lob them in in hope.

    the lobbers can get away with it when it's not windy.


  • Registered Users Posts: 525 ✭✭✭ Chico Flores


    irishfan9 wrote: »
    which is why elite hookers are able to use their technique to throw a ball in at high speed to negate the wind.. some hooker throw bullets into the lineout, some lob them in in hope.

    the lobbers can get away with it when it's not windy.

    I think it's a miss and match. Our best ever lineout thrower (IMO) was Flannery and he by and large bullet threw it but could lob it too depending on the opposition.

    He was supposed to just spend hours after hours practicing though.

    Of course its not all the hooker, jumpers, lifters etc but I only really look at that on an overthrow.

    Crooked- especially when hitting at 2 is inexcusable.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    I think it's a miss and match. Our best ever lineout thrower (IMO) was Flannery and he by and large bullet threw it but could lob it too depending on the opposition.

    He was supposed to just spend hours after hours practicing though.

    Of course its not all the hooker, jumpers, lifters etc but I only really look at that on an overthrow.

    Crooked- especially when hitting at 2 is inexcusable.


    true they don't always have to be bullets, but in windy conditions that's what you want to prevent a crooked throw.

    it's no surprise that munster have the best lineout throwers with Flannery in situ.


  • Registered Users Posts: 525 ✭✭✭ Chico Flores


    irishfan9 wrote: »
    true they don't always have to be bullets, but in windy conditions that's what you want to prevent a crooked throw.

    it's no surprise that munster have the best lineout throwers with Flannery in situ.

    I know he's not been fit, but Casey is a good thrower. Scannell is an excellent hooker he just does his basics so well.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    I know he's not been fit, but Casey is a good thrower. Scannell is an excellent hooker he just does his basics so well.

    Casey is fit, just been playing AIL.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,038 ✭✭✭ arsebiscuits1




  • Registered Users Posts: 11,574 ✭✭✭✭ stephen_n


    irishfan9 wrote: »
    which is why elite hookers are able to use their technique to throw a ball in at high speed to negate the wind.. some hooker throw bullets into the lineout, some lob them in in hope.

    the lobbers can get away with it when it's not windy.

    Have you ever thrown the ball into a lineout?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 19,224 ✭✭✭✭ Venjur


    INPHO_00862239.jpg


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,330 ✭✭✭✭ Losty Dublin


    A line out can require 4 people though. Is it really all in the throw? What if a lifter's hand slips? or the forward set to catch it misses the timing? It can be very easy for it to appear over thrown, without it being the hookers fault. I don't think this issue is all too unique to Irish Hookers also. It feels like I'm seeing it more often in matches I'm casually watching on the TV.

    Especially with all that line dancing before the throw.

    I'm inclined to agree with you here. Teams can have too many options going on at the line out and are more and more dependent on the ball landing where the set piece needs it to be. A player can be lifted too high, too low, too early, too late, too near, too far etc etc, with the resultant being that there are a lot of variables going on that which are out of the hookers control. All the casual fan sees is a screw up with the hooker getting the wrap.


  • Registered Users Posts: 875 ✭✭✭ brocbrocach


    I'm inclined to agree with you here. Teams can have too many options going on at the line out and are more and more dependent on the ball landing where the set piece needs it to be. A player can be lifted too high, too low, too early, too late, too near, too far etc etc, with the resultant being that there are a lot of variables going on that which are out of the hookers control. All the casual fan sees is a screw up with the hooker getting the wrap.

    Yep, so a good hooker hits it 8 or 9 out of ten. Theres always a chance it can go wrong. A bad thrower only gets 6 or 7. Or else his jumper has to battle for a ball which slows down service to the 9 which means the opposing 7 can cut off certain options.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    I'm inclined to agree with you here. Teams can have too many options going on at the line out and are more and more dependent on the ball landing where the set piece needs it to be. A player can be lifted too high, too low, too early, too late, too near, too far etc etc, with the resultant being that there are a lot of variables going on that which are out of the hookers control. All the casual fan sees is a screw up with the hooker getting the wrap.

    I'm not a casual fan, none of the leinster hookers are reliable lineout throwers. Nor was their coach.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,027 ✭✭✭✭ Squidgy Black


    Lineout throwing is a pain in the hole, the slightest bit of an early or late release means it's not going exactly where you aimed for. That combined with the timing of the lift means the difference between a dart straight or an ball either being crooked or overthrowing their target altogether.

    Also helps when the hooker is working with the same pods over and over again and perfecting the timing of the lifts. I do think Tracy's improved a good bit this season, the lineout functioned quite well against Ulster.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    If you just look at the academies:

    Sean McNulty(22/Leinster)
    Zach McCall(22/Ulster)
    Adam McBurney(21/Ulster)
    Vincent O'Brien(21/Munster)
    Ronan Kelleher(19/Leinster)
    Alex Clarke(19/Ulster)

    McBurney is the best prospect out of them, followed by Kelleher and Clarke in my opinion.

    Apparently Tadhg McElroy is set to make an appearance for Saracens in the LV cup this weekend.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 3,585 irishfan9


    There is a group of talented underage hookers emerging in the AIL though:

    Diarmaid Barron(Garryowen)
    Tadgh McCarthy(UCC)
    John Hodnett(UCC)
    --
    Alex Clarke(Queens)
    Claytan Milligan(Ballynahinch)(u19)
    --
    Ronan Kelleher(Lansdowne)
    Dan Sheehan(DUFC)
    Richie Bergin(UCD)(u19)
    Eoghan Clarke(Wanderers)
    Stephen McLauhglin(Blackrock)


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