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We countdown the NRL’s 10 best hookers for season 2024


nrl best hookers 2024

Every offensive play begins with them and they’re central in defence as well.

You can mount a strong argument that hookers, in rugby league, are the most important players on the field.

The NRL is littered with talent at the hooker position, expected to not only be clinical in attack through a strong running and passing game, but also relied upon heavily on the defensive side — expected to get through a collossal workload.

That’s why some of the best NRL hookers command serious money. Not only because of the job description, but also because it’s hard to find players who can do – and do it all – at a premiership-winning level.

The debate surrounding who sits atop the throne as one of the best NRL hookers has been a hot talking point over the past couple of years, considering Harry Grant and Ben Hunt’s performances at Origin level, Api Koroisau’s back-to-back premierships at that position, and the emergence of many up-and-comers.

best NRL hookers, harry grant, nrl's best players, best NRL hookers
Harry Grant comes in at number one on our best hookers list heading into season ’24.

Whatever top 10 we settle on, we’re aware debate will rage in group chats. But please acknowledge we’re determined to build a more balanced and logical list than what you’ll find on other click-hungry publications.

We rank the NRL’s 10 best hookers for 2024

So here’s our top 10 best NRL hookers as we build into the 2024 NRL season.

Note that we’ve considered 2023 form generously, along with what we know they’re capable of, based off previous output.


1. Harry Grant

It’s no surprise that at the top of the pile is the Queensland Maroons hooker, Australian hooker, and most importantly, Melbourne Storm hooker Harry Grant.

Turning 26 in February 2024, it’s incredible to think about the numbers Grant is putting up at such a young age, not even quite yet in his prime — nine tries, 12 try assists, 70 average run metres and an average of 43 tackles a game.

Grant’s running game, partnered with his elite top level defence and ability to create opportunities for players around him has brought him plenty of success at the start of career and is due for a big 2024 season.

2. Damien Cook

There’s a lot of similarities stats-wise between Damien Cook and Harry Grant, even some that Cook bests him in, but ultimately Cook comes in at number two.

2024 could be the season Damien Cook drops back a little from being an elite hooker in the NRL, turning 33 midway through the season.

Some thought that 2023 might be the year he started to decline, but how wrong was that take; Cook was number one amongst hookers in tackle breaks (avg 2.2), tackle efficiency (95%) and average tackles (44).

3. Reece Robson

Reece Robson looks set to be the next long-term hooker for New South Wales after a stellar debut in Game 3, 2023.

Known for his defensive capabilities, Robson had a tackle efficiency of 92% in 2023, averaging the fourth most amount of tackles per game for his position.

An area we all hope to see more growth for Robson is his try-scoring nous; the Cowboys hooker only managed two tries last season, taking his tally up to 20 over his career.

4. Blayke Brailey

Blayke Brailey will be the only Brailey on this list for this year, as brother Jayden missed most of last season and is no lock to start for Newcastle in 2024.

But the Sharks’ crafty number nine had an impressive 2023 campaign, especially on the defensive end of the game.

Brailey had an incredible tackle efficiency of 92% last season to complement him averaging the third-most amount of tackles a game.

It seems, going forward, that Brailey is a piece the Sharks need in order to succeed in the future and partner with the likes of one of the best NRL players going around in Nicho Hynes.

5. Api Koroisau

It’s no easy feat trying to lead around a side that can’t help but collect wooden spoons at this point, but there’s no denying that Api Koroisau is still a top five hooker in the NRL.

Having won three premierships in the position, including a back-to-back with Penrith, Koroisau is not only great, but elite. His ability to find the line makes him one of the craftiest hookers going around and his running game has always been his strong suit.

There seems to be chance, based off how the Koroisau and Tigers finished 2023, that he will be playing in the halves. But regardless, he is still one of the best NRL hookers.

6. Jeremy Marshall-King

If injuries can stay away from Jeremy Marshall-King then we’re in for a treat. Because when you’re related to Benji Marshall, you’re naturally a freak on the field — which has been proven true in this instance.

Marshall-King made the brave move last off-season to leave the Bulldogs after they signed former-Eels hooker Reed Mahoney, and head to the unknown of Redcliffe. Only managing 15 games due to injury, Marshall-King was still in the top five for hookers in try assists (8), average tackle breaks (1.6), and tackle efficiency (92.2).

If injuries do stay away, not only will Marshall-King show how great he is but also the Dolphins will be able to show their potential off the back of having a quality number nine week-in-week-out.

7. Reed Mahoney

Mahoney slips to number seven on our best NRL hookers piece due to him being one of the most penalised players in the competition, and some one who at times struggles defensively.

Reed Mahoney’s tackle efficiency was down in his first season at ‘The Kennel’, standing at 88%. However, there’s no denying Mahoney’s attacking output, as he set up eight tries this year, scored six himself, and was middle of the pack in run-metres and tackle breaks for his position.

But when Mahoney’s at his best, he’s pushing for Origin selection where he has been selected in the squad a couple times. Sitting behind Harry Grant for the Maroons is tough, but if he helps the Bulldogs to a much needed finals berth, then a spot couple easily open up.

8. Wayde Egan

For a side that unfortunately loses a lot of players due to where they’re based, the New Zealand Warriors must do everything to hold onto Wayde Egan as quality NRL hookers are hard to find.

With a 92% tackle efficiency in the middle, Egan consistently puts his body on the line time and time again; it feels like every time you watch him play he goes down at some point with an injury but just fights through it.

Even though he only played 22 games for a side that made a preliminary final in 2023, Egan managed to finish second in total tries for his position with six, and set up five in those games as well.

9. Lachlan Croker

Lachlan Croker is one of the unsung heroes in the NRL, doing everything for his side but steals no headlines due to the star power he’s surrounded by.

In a team that lack consistency a majority of the time, Croker is anything but that, amassing a 93% tackle efficiency – second amongst the best NRL hookers – and on the other end of the game, scored six tries which is tied for second most for hookers as well.

However, for someone who doesn’t run the ball a whole lot, averaging 27 metres a game, Croker almost averaged a tackle break a match which is a testament to his strength.

10. Brandon Smith

Rounding out our best NRL hookers list heading into the 2024 season is Sydney Roosters number nine Brandon Smith, who if you’d have asked this time last year, would have been pushing for a top five spot.

For Smith’s standards, 2023 was an incredibly poor year — injuries played a crucial role playing 21 games, but his struggles to fit into a new system at the Roosters was glaringly obvious.

Defensively when compared to the other best NRL hookers, Smith was near last in tackle efficiency at still a respectable 90%, and averaged 30 tackles a game.

brandon smith
Former Storm game-breaker Brandon Smith was recruited to the Roosters ahead of season 2022.

Although this might sound a bit negative for a top ten hooker in the NRL, the areas where Brandon Smith always delivers is in his effort and aggression in attack. Contrasted to his average defence, is his scintillating running game — averaging 1.8 tackle breaks a game on an average of 61 metres.

Having another off-season at Moore Park can only do wonders for Brandon Smith’s confidence, and I’m sure many in the NRL community expect to see him playing at a high level and helping the Roosters claim the top spot in the league once again.

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