Danny Buderus has pinpointed three of the best young hookers in the NRL who he believes are up for big seasons in 2017, with the potential to earn representative honours in the near future.
With the retirement of Michael Ennis and the two incumbent State of Origin hookers being 33 years old, Buderus stressed the importance of transitioning young hookers into NRL players and eventually into the representative scene.
“I like Jacob Liddle, he is someone that has a real understanding playing around the ruck, playing short and bringing blokes onto the footy,” Buderus says to NSWRL.com.au.
“He’s someone that has got to work on his passing game, but for mine, he is really good."
Liddle is only 20 years old, but the maturity shown beyond his years on the field in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW and the Holden Cup last year has Wests Tigers fans excited for what’s ahead.
He only has one NRL game to his name, which greatly differs from the 104-game hooker that Buderus believes is perfectly suited for the Origin arena as early as this year.
“The next one is Nathan Peats, the physicality of him is great and he is an Origin player,” Buderus says.
“He would love it in that arena, and I’m sure he is working hard in pre-season to become part of the 2017 series.
“Hooker is a position that we really need to keep pushing hard, because it’s a fun position to play, and these guys are getting manufactured now so you have just got to keep working with them in years to come.”
The third player Buderus pinpointed was St George Illawarra Dragons recruit Cameron McInnes, who attended a specialised training program under the guidance of a host of NSW True Blues last December.
“[McInnes] is a good player, this is an important year for him,” Buderus says.
“He had a bit going on last year, but I’m sure he’s settled at St George and be all the better for it.
“He’s got all the attributes and he’s going to blossom into a really good hooker.”
Despite having played his last Origin game in 2008, Buderus is still passionate about the future of the VB Blues.
He joined Andrew Johns, Mark O’Meley, Brad Fittler and Anthony Minichiello just over a week ago to run a coaching session for the best under-16s and 18s NSW players.
The drills were position specific, and future stars including Kyle Schneider, Josh Cook and Tom Demeio had the opportunity to work with the former VB Blues legend.
“The first thing I asked the players was if they liked to defend, and they said they loved to defend,” Buderus explains.
“That’s the first and foremost for any hooker, is that they like the physical part of it and you can then touch up the rest.
“The left-to-right pass for someone that’s going into the hooking position is one of those things that they need to work on, so if you just need give them a couple of points and technique issues that they can work on.”
As the player that touches the ball more than anyone in the side, the hooker must have ultimate trust in his teammates, which is built by spending time together off the field.
For that reason, Buderus is a massive fan of the Pathways Programs that the NSWRL provide, led by Jamie Feeney.
“It’s about building their relationship when they come into these camps, they know each other really well, and that’s the most you can get out of these days,” Buderus says.
“We have that relationship now that they can just get in touch with each other and bounce things off each other so their passing from left to right, their subtleties need a bit of work but they’ll get there.”