The eighth installment of my Greatest Ever series is here!
In this series I will look at the greatest talents to grace various sports. This time I continue to look at Rugby Union, and, following my "Top Three Loose Head Props of All Time," I will look at the top three players at the hooker position.
As with loose head prop, hooker is a specialist position, as well as a highly important and potentially dangerous one. A good hooker can turn the game for you by winning scrums when you really need them won, or by manipulating the line-out to set up try scoring opportunities.
3. Brian Moore (ENG) - Now an outspoken BBC pundit, Brian Moore was a ferocious player in his day. Nicknamed "the Pitbull" for his combative and abrasive play, he earned a total of 64 England caps in the eight years he represented his country.
He also went on two British and Irish Lions tours in 1989 to Australia and in 1993 to New Zealand, winning five caps in the process. He has appeared at three Rugby World Cup tournaments including a final in 1991 and, also in 1991, was voted Rugby World Player of the Year, a huge feat for a front row forward.
He won three Grand Slams during his eight-year international career—in 1991, 1992, and 1995.
2. Keith Wood (IRE) - "The Raging Potato" is a former Ireland captain and was a talisman for the Irish Rugby team for years. Wood was not only a fearsome scrummager, but a try scorer as well.
He holds the record for amount of international tries scored by a hooker, with 15. Four of these came in one match.
Also nicknamed "Uncle Fester," Wood was named IRB International Player of the Year in 2001, and was inducted into the Rugby Hall of Fame in 2005. A member of two British and Irish Lions squads, Wood won five caps in 1997 and 2001.
1. Sean Fitzpatrick (NZ) - Widely regarded as one of the finest players New Zealand has ever produced (And that's saying something!) Fitzpatrick was captain of the All Blacks for five years and led by example throughout that time.
With 92 caps, he is one of few players to get over 90 All Black caps. He played in three World Cups, winning the first of them back in 1987. He also scored 12 tries for his country, second only in the all-time lists of try scoring hookers to Keith Wood.
A solid all around player with bullish strength, Fitzpatrick is worthy of his place as the greatest hooker of all time.
Coming soon—"The Top Three Tight Head Props of All Time"