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All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu prepares to throw in to the line out

Photo: Getty Images

Lining up in the scrum between the two props, the hooker is one of the forwards’ key decision-makers. He or she will coordinate the timing at the scrum, and is also responsible for winning possession in the scrummage by hooking the ball back through the props' legs.

To allow the hooker to do this effectively, the props support much of the hooker’s weight, leaving him or her free to concentrate on hooking the ball back, rather than pushing against the opposition forwards. For this reason the hooker is often the smallest member of a front-row trio.

At the lineout he or she is responsible for throwing the ball in and must be able to accurately hit the lineout jumper who is expecting the ball. In open play the hooker plays a similar role to the props, securing possession at rucks and mauls, or taking short ‘crash’ passes.

What hookers often lack in height, they certainly make up for in terms of musc­le, mobility and importance.

Key Abilities

Mobility, strength, accurate passing, good decision-making

Famous Hookers

Brian Moore (England and Lions), Steve Thompson (England and Lions), Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand), Keith Wood (Ireland and Lions)