top of page
  • Writer's pictureJonathan Turner

GameDay Squad's 2024 Rugby League Fantasy - Hooker Tiers!

Fantasy Rugby League Tiers: It's that exciting time of the year again when we delve into the realm of fantasy footy! In the second blog of this series, we will be looking at one of the toughest positions to navigate: the hookers! We'll take a deep dive into the elite players from 2023, identify potential breakout candidates, and assess the older players who might be showing signs of slowing down. Get ready as we break down the hooker position into tiers for the upcoming 2024 Rugby League season!


You may see some acronyms in this blog that you may not have come across before. Please feel free to see what they mean under this link - GameDay Squad's 2024 Rugby League - Classic Competition Strategy.


Fantasy Tiers

Tier 1


Harry Grant - 2023 AVG of 50 points, Positional Rank 2nd

Damien Cook - 2023 AVG of 53 points, Positional Rank 1st


These players have been the top two players at hooker for the last couple of seasons. I believe Grant will remain in this tier throughout the season, but we may see Cook drop down a tier as the season goes on. At this stage there are a lot of unknowns on how the Storm and Rabbitohs will work their rotations.


In 2023 we saw Grant play 80 minutes in 14 of his 25 games. A lot of this was to do with rest around origin time and leading into the finals. Even in the finals, he only played the full 80 minutes once. Bronson Garlick is the backup hooker for the Storm, and we saw his minutes increase as the season went on. Grant has been named as the captain of the Storm this season and it will be interesting to see if he spends more time on the field.


In 2023 we saw Cook play 80 minutes in 20 of his 23 games. He is now 32 years old, and we may start to see him not play as many minutes as he has done in the past. The Bunnies have Siliva Havili and Peter Mamouzelos as their back up hookers and they may be given more game time at hooker.


As fantasy coaches, we look to start hookers that offer a decent floor of points through base stats. Through run metres, tackles and kicking metres in 2023 we saw Grant average 52 points a game and Cook average 51 points. The second thing to consider is hookers that offer attacking upside. Through tries, try assists, line breaks, line break assists, tackle breaks and offloads in 2023 we saw Grant average 18 points a game and Cook average 13 points. The last thing to consider is points lost through demerits. Through missed tackles, errors and penalties in 2023 we saw Grant average 19 points a game in demerits and Cook average 11 points.


Last season these players accounted for ten HOK1 finishes for the round, they both finished as the HOK1 on five occasions. As you can see, there isn't much separating these players, but I have Grant ranked above Cook this season. I like the attacking upside that Grant offers and think he will be able reduce the points he loses through demerits. However, this doesn't mean I'll be starting Grant every week as there might be better match ups for other hookers.


Tier 2


Reece Robson - 2023 AVG of 43 points, Positional Rank 3rd

Jeremy Marshall-King - 2023 AVG of 43 points, Positional Rank 4th

Apisai Koroisau - 2023 AVG of 39 points, Positional Rank 9th


All the players mentioned in this tier are fantasy-relevant players that can do a decent job for your team. If your squad has Grant and Cook, then the players in this tier will be excellent cover when required. Some weeks they may even have a more favourable matchup and become your preferred starter. Everyone in this tier should be able to average 40+ points.


Robson had a disappointing 2023 season and we saw his average drop from 50 points in 2022 to 43 points in 2023. The points he scored through base stats didn't really change but he didn't score as many points in attack and lost more points through demerits. Robson played 80 minutes in 20 of his 23 games. He finished as the HOK1 once and had scores of 50+ points on five occasions. I'm expecting him to bounce back this season and think he is the player from this tier that has the best opportunity to move into tier 1.


JMK looked on track to have his best season in GDS until he injured his shoulder in round 15 against the Sea Eagles. Up until then he was averaging 49 points and was the third best hooker in GDS. JMK played 80 minutes in 11 of his 15 games. He finished as the HOK1 twice and had scores of 50+ points on seven occasions. Before I consider starting him this season I want to see if he has any issues with his shoulder. Also, the Dolphins have a couple of young players that can share minutes with JMK. If Wayne Bennett includes one of them on the interchange, JMK might not be a great starting option in your squad.


In 2023 Koroisau played his first season at the Wests Tigers after winning two premierships with the Panthers. He had a disappointing 2023 season and we saw his average drop from 43 points in 2022 to 39 points in 2023. However, we did see him finish the season strong with him playing 80 minutes in the last six games, averaging 50 points over this period. Koroisau played 80 minutes in 11 of his 21 games. He finished as the HOK1 once and had scores of 50+ points on five occasions. If we see Koroisau become a regular 80-minute hooker, I believe there could be a few games where he might be a good POD option for your starting squad.


Tier 3


Blayke Brailey - 2023 AVG of 41 points, Positional Rank 5th

Jayden Brailey - 2023 AVG of 41 points, Positional Rank 6th

Chris Randall - 2023 AVG of 41 points, Positional Rank 7th

Lachlan Croker - 2023 AVG of 40 points, Positional Rank 8th

Wayde Egan - 2023 AVG of 38 points, Positional Rank 10th

Brandon Smith - 2023 AVG of 35 points, Positional Rank 13th

Reed Mahoney - 2023 AVG of 34 points, Positional Rank 15th


In tier 3 we have players that are more boom or bust starting options. They all have the upside of finishing as a HOK1 in any given week, but they also have a higher chance than the tier 1 and 2 players of scoring outside the top five hookers. Most hookers in this tier are likely to be in job shares. Over the season they may have the opportunity to have a run to games where they are the 80-minute hooker. Personally, it's unlikely that I'll be starting any of these players on a regular basis, but they are good depth options to have in your squad. You never know when the opportunity may arise where you need to start one of these players. If several coaches are vying for the same player on any given week, it might be harder to acquire these players' cards. It's worth considering your player depth at hooker before the season starts.


Blayke Brailey has shown us glimpses in the past seasons of stepping up to the next level but has lacked consistency. He offers coaches a safe floor but hasn't been all that relevant in GDS due to the lack of attacking upside. Blayke played 80 minutes in 20 of his 23 games. He finished as the HOK1 three times and had scores of 50+ points on four occasions. If we see an uptick on attack, there could be a few games where he might be a good POD option for your starting squad.


Jayden Brailey had his 2023 season cut short due to injury. Jayden played 80 minutes in 3 of his 5 games. He didn't have one HOK1 finish and had scores of 50+ points on two occasions. Phoenix Crossland moved into starting hooker in Jayden's absence, and he performed rather well. With Jayden coming back from a long injury layoff, I'm expecting a job share at hooker between Jayden and Crossland. I think we will see Jayden start the game as he is a more defensive hooker, and we may see Crossland come on when there are more tired legs on the field. Jayden is an avoid for me until we see what the Knights rotation looks like. If he becomes an 80-minute hooker again, there could be a few games where he might be a good POD option for your starting squad.


Randall offers the most upside in this tier in my opinion, but this depends on how the Titans work their rotation under new coach Des Hasler. I'm aware that this is a very small sample but in the last two games that Randall and Verrills played together, Randall was the starting hooker. Over these two games he averaged 64 points. It is worthy to note that Randall did spend time in the middle rotation when Verrills came off the bench in these two games. Randall played 80 minutes in 5 of his 21 games. He finished as the HOK1 three times and had scores of 50+ points on seven occasions. Don't get me wrong, it's unlikely that he will be a starting option in GDS most weeks, but he offers great boom potential on occasions.


Crocker had a good 2023 season and we saw his average increase from 36 points in 2022 to 40 points in 2023. We saw an uptick in attack, where he averaged 2 points a game more. He also improved with his tackling, in 2022 he was losing 13.5 points through missed tackles and last season this improved to only 9 points a game being lost through missed tackles. Croker played 80 minutes in 9 of his 23 games. He finished as the HOK1 twice and had scores of 50+ points on five occasions. Three of these five scores of 50+ points were scores of 70+ points. Croker is one of the players in this tier that offers a very high ceiling, but he is a risky option as he did have five scores of less than 20 points last season.


Egan had a decent 2023 season but quite often found himself being checked for an HIA. I'm not sure what it is, maybe it is his technique but quite often he finds himself in an awkward position when making a tackle and this is a concern for GDS coaches. Egan played 80 minutes in 8 of his 22 games. He finished as the HOK1 once and had scores of 50+ points on seven occasions. Often in 2023, Egan was given a rest on the pine and either Lussick or Tevaga spent time at hooker. This rotation seemed to work for the Warriors, and I can't really see them moving away from it. If he becomes an 80-minute hooker, there could be a few games where he might be a good POD option for your starting squad.


Like many GDS coaches, I was disappointed with Smith's performances last season. He did start to show some form at the back end of the season when the Roosters were running hot. Over his last five games he averaged 68 minutes a game for an average of 45 points. Smith has rarely been an 80-minute hooker and he averaged 58 minutes over the 21 games that he played. He didn't have one HOK1 finish and had scores of 50+ points on four occasions. Now that Connor Watson is fit and likely to be back in the side, who knows what Smith's minutes will look like. Like many of the hookers in this tier, it's a wait and see before I consider Smith as a starting hooker.


In 2023 Mahoney played his first season at the Bulldogs after moving over from the Eels. He had a disappointing season and we saw his average drop from 40 points in 2022 to 34 points in 2023. The main reason for the lower average in 2023 is because Mahoney was missing more tackles and lost an average of 5 points more through missed tackles last season. Mahoney seemed to have the job of rushing up out of the line and putting the first hit on the ball carrier before the other Bulldog forwards helped him out. Quite often he would fall off the tackle while doing this. Mahoney played 80 minutes in 18 of his 24 games. He didn't have one HOK1 finish and had scores of 50+ points on six occasions. I'm expecting the Bulldogs forwards to be better this season and if Mahoney doesn't fall off as many tackles, he might be able to move up a tier.


It’s worth keeping an eye on the below players as they are all situational and match-up dependent.

Sam Verrills - 2023 AVG of 35 points, Positional Rank 12th

Jacob Liddle - 2023 AVG of 35 points, Positional Rank 14th

Billy Walters - 2023 AVG of 31 points, Positional Rank 18th

Danny Levi - 2023 AVG of 16 points, Positional Rank 35th


 


Comments


bottom of page