Sharks Den Editorial: Hook a
hooker?

While the Cronulla season has been steaming along quite nicely, despite a few hiccups, there is one aspect of our game that is not nearly as efficient as it should be. I?m not talking about our missed tackles (which, I should add, are ludicrously high each week). I?m not talking about the continual selection of Greg Bird in the team over more deserving contenders (although that is another problem.)

No, the issue today revolves around the lack of Cronulla?s hookers. They just aren?t working to their full potential.

Last season, despite an abysmal showing by the team in general, our rotating hookers appeared to operate like a well-oiled machine. Matty Hilder would start things off with his typically solid defence and good ball distribution and after twenty or so minutes, Michael Sullivan would slide into the attack, ducking through gaps in tiring defences and generally causing havoc. That sort of play has barely been sighted this year.

Hilder hasn?t been too bad; doing a solid if unspectacular job each week. Sullivan, though, we?ve come to expect to shine. This year, though, he?s been ambling into dummy-half and, apparently, forgetting there are twelve other blokes sharing the paddock with him. The ball seems glued to his fingers. Just watch, next game, how many times he runs a weird diagonal from dummy-half, sniffing for an opportunity that never even existed. His stats claim that he?s one of the leading dummy-half runners in the game. No wonder ? he?s forgotten about his outside (and inside) men.

So Hilder is uninspiring and Sullivan has become a ball hog. How do we solve the problem?

Stuart Raper must accept that rotating hookers simply isn?t working. It is time to shaft one of the two, keep the one hooker on the park for eighty minutes and look for an injection of flair from elsewhere. That doesn?t necessarily mean that Hilder or Sullivan needs to be sent packing to our Newtown affiliates, of course. The answer, in my opinion, is to make Sullivan an eighty minute hooker.

Greg Bird is doing nothing on the bench; the team would be far better served with Hilder taking that spot in the seventeen. Bring him on as a backrower who, should the need arise, can cover hooking or five eighth; not unlike Greg Bird, but more willing to pass the ball and less likely to concede a mindless penalty. Sullivan, meanwhile, should be told to only go for those opportunities on the occasions they arise; don?t bother running at a closed defence. If he can?t run by those instructions, replace him with Newtown hooker Kevin Kingston.

The Sharks Den

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