By Lee Stace

WATCHING WARATAHS rake John Ulugia spray his lineout throws all over Eden Park during his side’s Super Rugby playoff loss to the Blues last Friday night highlighted what is starting to become a recurring theme amongst hookers in our game.

Indeed, the number of players wearing the No 2 jersey coming through the system who cannot throw the ball in straight at lineout time is starting to worry Yours Truly.

What’s more worrying, though, is that these guys are progressing through the age-grade, provincial, Super Rugby and, in some cases, international ranks without rectifying this part of their game.

Anton Oliver is a prime example. He often had difficulty with his throwing (remember the five botched lineouts during the 2001 Tri Nations test between the All Blacks and Wallabies in Sydney), yet he went on to play 59 tests – including 10 as captain – for the Men in Black on the fact he was a good scrummager.

Aled de Malmanche (pictured) managed to play five tests – despite the fact he would struggle to hit a barnyard door face-on – due to the fact he was dynamic with ball in hand and on defence. Even the two incumbent All Blacks hookers in recent times – Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore – aren’t perfect.

In Ulugia’s case, the commentators even acknowledged that throwing was a weakness in his game.

All of which begs the question: How can a player be allowed to progress so high up the ladder when they don’t have a key part of their game down pat?

In his latest book Winning Matters, Sean Fitzpatrick admits he had the same problem. However, he worked hard on his throwing after receiving some stern words from Andy Haden at his first Auckland training.

“He told me to f**k off,” remembers Fitzpatrick, adding that he was ordered to fetch another hooker who could actually hit his jumpers at lineout time.

“A part of me was tempted to tell him to stick his lineout throwing, but deep down I knew he was right… and the simple truth was that unless I radically changed this part of my game, I was not going to achieve all that I wanted to.”

Very wise words. Perhaps coaches and academy managers should take a similar approach to Haden when dealing with today’s players.

It might be the kick up the backside they need to fix any shortfalls in their game.

Posted Comments

Stephen Yetman
One of the important roles of a hooker is to be able to connect effectively with his lineout jumpers. The All Blacks have lost tests due to a hooker’s inability to do this. Whatever other skills like scrumming and mobility, the first priority for selection should be lineout throwing ability. If they have difficulty with this art they should either practice so hard they iron out the problem or get someone who has mastered the art e.g. some wingers use to be good at this. At this stage of the Super 15 season there should be no excuses.
What always baffles me is WHY does it have to always be the no.2 that throws??? Surely if you have a prop that can throw better why not use them and the no.2 can lift. Problem solved.
What ball is played with this sport baseball.
You are allowed only 100 words for comments.
Your have 100 words left.

We at and NZ Rugby News Ltd like to keep our readers up to date with the latest news, offers from our sites and information from our partners. We are committed to protecting your privacy and will not pass your details on to any company outside of our network.

We at NZ Rugby News Ltd invite our readers (you) to post comments on the blogs on our website. Please read our terms and conditions below.

Please note the views which are expressed in the comment areas are not our views, nor the views of any of our staff. We accept no liability in respect to any material posted in the comments areas and are not responsible for the content and accuracy of that material.

If you place reliance on material posted in the comments area, you do so at your own risk, and you indemnify us from any liabilities, claims, costs, loss (including consequential loss) or damage suffered or caused by doing so.

If you comment on our blogs, the following terms and conditions apply.

Our rights

We retain the right (but not the obligation) to edit, delete, reject or remove any comment which you post or want to post in our blog areas.

You grant us non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide licence to republish any material you submit to us, without limitation, in any format.

We retain the right to terminate your ability to comment on our blogs if we believe you are abusing the service in any way, or have breached these terms and conditions.

You consent to our collecting and storing your email and IP address for security purposes and you will also receive a complementary subscription to RugbyEnews.

Your obligations

You will not be able to post the following comments on our blogs:

(a) Anything which is not an original work or infringes upon the copyright, registered trademark or intellectual property rights of another person;

(b) Anything which is or could be deemed to be obscene, offensive, pornographic, vulgar, profane, indecent or otherwise illegal;

(c) Anything which is defamatory towards a person, company or organisation.

(d) Anything which racially or religiously vilifies, incites violence or hatred, or is likely to offend, insult or humiliate others based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation or any physical or mental disability;

(e) Anything which you know or suspect is false, misleading or deceptive.

(f) Anything which advertises or promotes goods, services and products in a commercial manner; or

(g) Anything which provides financial advice or advice of any kind to any financial product.



You agree to fully indemnify and hold us harmless against any liabilities, claims, costs, loss (including consequential loss) or damage incurred as a result of any comments you post in our blog area, or as a result of any breach by you of these terms and conditions.

Notwithstanding any indemnity provided by you under these terms and conditions, we retain the right to assume the conduct of any defence to a claim brought against us and of any proceedings or appeal issued by us, and you agree to provide all reasonable cooperation (including making relevant documents available) that we may require from you in relation to any such claim, proceeding or appeal.

These terms and conditions shall be construed and applied in accordance with the laws of New Zealand, and you consent to the exclusive jurisdiction of the New Zealand Courts to determine any matter or dispute which arises under these terms and conditions in accordance with the laws of New Zealand.

Upcoming Matches

2014 Super Rugby fixtures

2014 Super Rugby fixtures

All the fixtures you need to plan your viewing pleasure!

Fixtures & Results

Super Rugby
Heartland Championship
Rugby World Cup 2011


Mark Calverley Super Rugby - Not going to plan for NZ teams. Should we worry?

Not all our own way for NZ teams

By Mark Calverley

Mark Calverley Benji - Should he stay or should he go?

Pressure is on Benji, but shouldn't we remember SBW went to France (Toulon) for 2 years to learn the game.

By Mark Calverley

Mark Calverley Concussion

With all of the news around concussion do you think there should be safety measures in place for players to ensure they don't play on after a head know? How and who should police that?

By Mark Calverley

Mark Calverley Club Rugby - How to get the MOJO back

With the start of club rugby upon us, how can we maintain the value of the clubs in player pathways and community spirit.

By Mark Calverley