Who is the number two hooker in the country?

By Campbell Burnes

Codie Taylor of the Crusaders. Photosport
Codie Taylor of the Crusaders. Photosport

We know Dane Coles, barring injury, is a lock for the All Blacks' No 2 jersey this season, but what of the other front-line New Zealand hookers?

Logic would suggest that they would be ranked Codie Taylor, Liam Coltman, Hika Elliot and James Parsons, in that order, but do the stats bear that out?

They are not far off.

Coles himself is playing well for the Hurricanes, though he would love to score a try and boost his lineout accuracy into the 90s percentage, after five throws have gone astray in his four games in 2017.

Codie Taylor is standing out on in an industrious Crusaders pack. His lineout throwing is accurate, he has scored a try and makes his tackles as the dominant rake in the job-sharing role with Ben Funnell.

Liam Coltman is one of several in the Highlanders' pack who just rolls his sleeves up and gets on with hitting rucks, making tackles and trying to steal ball at the breakdown. He does this effectively in his average of 72 minutes on the field, the most of any New Zealand hooker in Super Rugby.

However, his Achilles Heel is his lineout throwing, the converted prop operating at 81%. If he wants to challenge Taylor, he will need to up that.

Having superseded the injured Nathan Harris at the Chiefs, Hika Elliot is performing solidly for his franchise, though he seems to be something of a forgotten All Black on the scene. It is curious that this is the case, because he throws into the lineout as well as anyone, carries strongly and does his core roles with aplomb. However, he only averages 47 minutes before Dave Rennie subs him.

James Parsons of the Blues has just recently returned from concussion, so his numbers should not be fully compared to his rivals. Parsons appeals as a fine leader, but his lineout percentage is at just 79 and that remains his weakness. However, he is still on the selectors' radar, as he made an All Blacks appearance in 2016.

NZ Super Rugby hookers

Dane Coles
Average minutes: 55.3
Tackles: 6.3
Lineouts: 86%
Turnovers: 0

James Parsons
Average minutes: 54.3
Tackles: 3.7
Lineouts: 79%
Turnovers: 0.7

Hika Elliot
Average minutes: 46.5
Tackles: 2.8
Lineouts: 93%
Turnovers: 0.3

Codie Taylor
Average minutes: 50.8
Tackles: 9.2
Lineouts: 94%
Turnovers: 0.2

Liam Coltman
Average minutes: 72
Tackles: 9
Lineouts: 81%
Turnovers: 1

- NZ Herald

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