Super League Team of the Decade: Hooker

In this article, we look at the best hookers of the last ten years, as we continue to look for the best team of the decade.

This is in no particular order.

James Roby (St Helens)

James Roby has won it all with St Helens
Credit: Craig Thomas/News Images

Roby came through the academy ranks at the Saints and made his debut in 2004. He mainly acted as an understudy to Keiron Cunningham.

He went on to become the youngest player to lift the Man of Steel award in 2007 and was building his own legacy.

By the time Cunningham retired in 2010, Roby had already established himself on the big stage and proved he was more than ready to take on the senior role.

He was an ever-present in the team, although 2013 would prove to be a bit of an injury-hit year for him.

However, he bounced back a year later and put in a Harry Sunderland Trophy winning performance as Saints finally put their record of five straight Grand Final defeats behind them.

Eventually, in 2018, he was named captain of the club by new Head Coach Justin Holbrook. He would lift his first trophy that year as Saints won the League Leaders Shield. They would however, fall short in the semi-finals of both competitions.

Redemption would come further down the line as a year later, Saints won the Grand Final once again. It would have been a treble, but they lost against Warrington Wolves at Wembley in the Challenge Cup Final.

Daryl Clark (Castleford Tigers and Warrington Wolves)

Daryl Clark has won the Man of Steel while at Castleford and the Challenge Cup at Warrington
Credit: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

Clark is a product of the Castleford academy and came through into the squad in 2011.

However, the team was struggling at the time. Ian Millward had come in as Head Coach, but the Tigers were languishing near the bottom.

Daryl Powell then came in towards the end of the 2013 season and turned the fortunes of the team around.

In his first full season in charge, Cas were just one game from winning the League Leaders Shield. They were bottom when he took over.

Clark was one of many players to step up his game during that season and his performances didn’t go unnoticed. He won the Man of Steel award for that year, and also moved to Warrington Wolves ahead of the 2015 season.

His first year at Warrington was a bit of a struggle, the team had underperformed, given their recent seasons. They were just minutes away from a third straight Grand Final the year before.

However, 2016 saw everything come together as Warrington won the League Leaders Shield, their first since 2011. But they fell short in both the Challenge Cup Final and the Super League Grand Final.

After another year of underperforming followed, Wire brought in a new Head Coach in Steve Price. He made his mark as Warrington made two finals once more, but also lost them both again.

Finally, Clark’s first major trophy would come in 2019, as Warrington lifted the Challenge Cup for the first time since 2012 after beating St Helens at Wembley.

Their Super League season ended up petering out, but they and Clark will be back in 2020.

Danny Houghton (Hull FC)

Danny Houghton has been named top tackler five times in the last ten years
Credit: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

Houghton came through the academy at Hull FC and made his debut for the club in 2007.

This decade saw him establish himself as one the best defensive hookers. For five seasons, he won the Super League Hitman award for most tackles. This was in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019.

His defining moment came in the 2016 Challenge Cup Final against Warrington Wolves. It was the dying seconds and Ben Currie looked like he’d stepped clear to score the winning try, but Houghton knocked the ball loose at the very last moment, meaning Hull would win at Wembley for the first time ever.

They were also just one game away from lifting the League Leaders Shield that year, but Wire beat them on the final night and lifted it themselves.

That didn’t stop Houghton that year though, as his performances earned him the prestigious Man of Steel award and he also made the Dream Team that year.

The Black and Whites would go on to lift back to back Challenge Cups after winning against Wigan Warriors in 2017.

He was named captain of the club ahead of the 2018 season. Since then, the club has enjoyed mixed success with the Black and Whites still getting far in the cup competitions but not quite replicating their league form.

It will be interesting to see how Houghton and the rest of the side go in the new decade.

Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos)

Rob Burrow made his Leeds debut in 2001 after coming through their academy, and became an integral part of their success in the later 2000s.

Coming into this decade, he was keen to carry on that trend of success. While 2010 was trophy-less for the Rhinos, they came back a year later.

Burrow put in a Harry Sunderland Trophy winning performance as he bullied the St Helens defence to win the match for Leeds. He got a try and an assist to win the Man of the Match award for the second time.

He had spent most of his career as a starting scrum-half, but was adapting to a new role as an impact player coming off the bench.

In his new role, he started at hooker as Leeds made it back-to-back titles in 2012 with a win over Warrington Wolves.

Then, Burrow helped Leeds win a title that had eluded him as a player many times; the Challenge Cup. Burrow had started at hooker once more to help the side to victory over Castleford Tigers.

A year later, he helped Leeds complete the treble of the Challenge Cup, League Leaders Shield and the Super League Grand Final. Burrow played at hooker in the Super League Final and came off the bench in the Challenge Cup.

His final game for Leeds was to help them to one more Super League title in 2017 as he came off the bench for their win against Castleford.

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