Something that is sticking out like a sore thumb in the Eels first grade line up: The role and playing style of the Hooking Position.
As is well known we now have Josh Hodgson in the Blue and Gold first grade number 9 jersey. A crafty dummy half no doubt that can certainly turn a game of football our way. He is able to engage the markers and identify slowing defence lines, however it is also becoming clear that perhaps 80minutes is beyond his physical limits these days. Its becoming too regular watching him make a tackle and be the last man up, unable to get back at marker or make it back to the defensive line, this is leaving us short. It effects our defensive structures the props have to take his position the second rowers have to stand one spot closer to the ruck, the halves , centres and last of all the wingers have to all come in to adjust and blind freddy can tell you how thats turning out for us continually being short outwide. Obviously thats not our only defensive problem but it contributes at times.
Hodgson has alot to offer our team when not exhausted or fatigued., and shouldnt be discarded. A quick look at how other NRL teams are playing their hookers shows something remarkable.
Brandon Smith one of the comps better dummy halves, rarely plays 80 minutes- two the best coachs in the modern era sub him in and out of the game to get the best from him.
Brisbane share the Hooking role with Billy Walters and Corey Paix equally
Warriors share the role
Raiders Share the role
Anyway I can go on but your getting my drift
This brings me to our team. Does BA have the ability to give Hodgson a rest during the game. Can he change his mindset and carry another hooker on the bench. Can he trust the next players in line. These must be going through BA's mind when reviewing our games to date. A quick look at our top 30 - Only 28 spots filled. On that list as hookers we have Mitch Rein another 32 year old, if he hasnt made regular first grade is he going to now. The only other option I see is Jake Arthur - I'll leave that one alone for now or this blog would get bogged down, but hey is he worth a thought.
So what would it take to get Brendan Hands on the bench, he is not in our top 30 - should he be upgraded now or do we keep our remaining spots for later.
Brendon Hands our NSW cup first choice Hooker.
24 years of age:
Debut with Penrith NSW Cup 2019 joined the Eels 2022
Played yesterday against Manly "Blacktown Workers" and quite frankly was very impressive. He looks to have turned a corner.
Check out his stats. Played 80 minutes - 1 try assist - 1 line break Assist - 8 dummy half runs - 112 passes with zero mistakes - 55 tackles with 0 misses and an efficiency of 98%. These are machine stats people.
Hands is considered one of our fittest players that can I suggest has maybe come of age for at least a shot. Remember it would take an upgrade into our top 30 roster to get a game. Is it time , we are looking down the barrell of 0 and 4 to start our season, and quite frankly Hodgson does not appear to be an 80 minute player. One last thought, if we upgrade him we have only 1 spot left in the top 30 and , well do we need spots for say another youngster Cini to perhaps evolve this year and force Waqa out at some point. Something to consider I would suggest.