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Debate: Is Daryl Clark now England’s elite hooker?

Debate: Is Daryl Clark now England’s elite hooker?

by: Total Rugby League, July 4, 2014, 10:05 am

Another win for the Castleford Tigers on Thursday night was once again dominated by another outstanding performance from Daryl Clark, with the hooker grabbing a hat-trick to take his tally to 12 tries already in Super League 2014.

Questions have been raised all season about where Clark will be plying his trade next season, but before that, there is an England tour to Australia for the upcoming Four Nations series. It seems likely that Clark will indeed be on the plane for the tour, but with his current form, is he England’s best hooker at Steve McNamara’s disposal?

YES, says Alex Simpson
Make no mistake about it, Daryl Clark is very much at the peak of his powers at this moment in time. The scary thing for everyone else in Super League is that he’s only 21 years of age – and he’s going to get a lot better. His performance against Widnes on Thursday night was everything we have come to expect from Clark; he has become a real influential figure on the team despite his tender years.

For years, England fans have demanded that the coach pick people on form, insisting it is the best chance we have of toppling the Australians and the New Zealanders. In this instance, the hooking role simply has to go to Clark. He is by far and away the best hooker in Super League – and he’s challenging some of Australia’s best, too. Seeing him go at it with the inspirational Cameron Smith would be a fantastic battle, and would only serve to develop Clark as a top hooker even more. James Roby and Michael McIlorum should be on the touring list, but Clark has to be the man who gets the starting berth for the opening game.

NO, says Jamie Warburton
First and foremost, there’s no doubting that Daryl Clark is having an excellent season for Castleford Tigers. If they finish inside the top four in Super League, a large proportion of that will be down to Clark and how he has steered the team around the field. But that doesn’t mean he should be an automatic pick for England – in fact, there are still a few players in front of him.

Heading up that list is James Roby, who still remains England’s top hooker. Sure, Cas are doing well in Super League 2014, but Roby has helped guide the Saints to the top of the ladder so far this season, and they look great value for it. And with the development of a number of young English halves, captain Kevin Sinfield could well have a future at hooker, rather than at half-back. Throw Michael McIlorum into the mix too, and you have a number of hookers that command the experience required to play for England on a tour Down Under. There’s no doubt that Clark should be on the tour, but he should use it as a career experience. In a couple of years his time will arrive – but for now, Clark should focus on developing.

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