The battle for a spot in the middle of the front row in the Rugby Rugby Readers XV of 2011 is a fierce one with some top class hookers in the running for the No.2 jersey. Which of these outstanding rakes gets your vote?
A dominant hooker is a vital ingredient in any succesful team as he plays a central role in both set-pieces and is also expected to do damage as a ball-carrier and compete for the ball on the ground.
Apart from having a steady hand at line-out time and providing the glue that binds the front row together in the scrums, hookers need to be destructive around the park and punch holes in the opposition defence using their physicality.
Our Super Rugby hooker of the tournament was Blues skipper and All Blacks stalwart Keven Mealamu who turned in consistent performances for every team he represented throughout the year.
Mealamu has plenty of experience and was on top of his game this year. A veteran of three World Cup campaigns, his work rate and sheer determination to get over the advantage line make him the ultimate team man.
The hard-working Mealamu's contests with Sharks and Springbok wrecking ball Bismarck du Plessis have been a highlight in southern hemisphere rugby in the last few years.
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The rampaging du Plessis makes an impact whenever he plays and his ability to physically dominate his opponents and force his way over the gain line keeps his team on the font foot consistently.
Du Plessis may have had to spend a bit more time on the bench than he would have liked as Bok skipper John Smit brought an end to his career but the attitude he brought with him on the pitch every time he got the chance underlined his undeniable class.
The northern hemisphere is represented by French hooker William Servat who had a great Six Nations campaign and also delivered an impressive performance up against Mealamu in the World Cup Final.
His hard-nosed approach and influential role in theset-pieces for France makes him a tough customer for any player who crosses his path.
Which of these gets your vote? Leave your comments below to motivate others to vote for your man.
There is still time to cast your vote for the best:
15: Fullback - (Israel Dagg, Kurtley Beale, Andrea Masi)
14: Right wing - (James O'Connor, Chris Ashton, Rod Davies)
13: Outside centre - (Brian O'Driscoll, Jaque Fourie, Conrad Smith)
12: Inside centre - (Sonny Bill Williams, Ma'a Nonu, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies)
11: Left wing - (Digby Ioane, Shane Williams)
10: Flyhalf - (Dan Carter, Quade Cooper, Rhys Priestland, Toby Flood)
9: Scrumhalf - (Will Genia, Mike Phillips, Morgan Parra)
8: Eighthman - (Kieran Read, Sergio Parisse, Imanol Harinordoquy, Radike Samo)
7: Flank - (Sam Warburton, David Pocock, Beau Robinson, Richie McCaw)
6: Flank - (Sean O'Brien, Scott Higginbotham, Heinrich Brüssow, Jerome Kaino)
5: Lock - (James Horwill, Ali Williams, Victor Matfield, Tom Palmer)
4: Lock - (Brad Thorn, Richie Gray)
3: Tighthead prop - (Owen Franks, Martin Castrogiovanni, Nicolas Mas)
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