Selecting the Lions hooker is one of the simplest selections possible. Keith Wood is undeniably the Lions hooker; he is Mr Lions when it comes to the front-row!

Wood was there when it all started for the professional-era Lions on 21st June 1997 in Cape Town. He was still there four years later when they went oh-so-close to beating the Wallabies. The Australian series will be seen by the Lions as the one that got away, but for Wood it was bitter-sweet as his performances were such that he took out the inaugural IRB Player of the Year award.

Keith Wood prepares to battle the Aussies, this time in Melbourne. PHOTO: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport
Keith Wood prepares to battle the Aussies, this time in Melbourne. PHOTO: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

For the New Zealand selection, this job is much, much harder. Considering that Fitzpatrick and Coles are book-ending a candidate list comprising of three test captains you get the idea. The captains being Anton Oliver, Keven Mealamu, and Andrew Hore; not to mention Fitzpatrick himself.

The decision here is not easy, but we have gone for the relative newcomer in Dane Coles.

There are numerous pros and cons to a lot of the players in the list of candidates, but at the end of the day we saw it coming down to the great Fitzpatrick and the relative new kid on the block in Coles. The decision is really based on the way that he is revolutionising the modern hooker’s role. Much the same way a young Fitzpatrick revolutionised how a modern hooker should play all those years ago.

Coles does all of the fundamentals well, has bulked up, and is now imposing himself in the scrum more than ever. But it is his play in the loose and his ability to run the so-called tramlines that sets him apart.

Dane Coles running in a try against the Aussies at Eden Park in 2015. Copyright Photo Marty Melville / www.photosport.nz
Dane Coles running in a try against the Aussies at Eden Park in 2015. Copyright Photo Marty Melville / www.photosport.nz

The professional era teams to date…

All Blacks

1. Tony Woodcock
2. Dane Coles

Lions

1. Tom Smith
2. Keith Wood

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Author: Steven Prescott

I am a total sports fanatic; it is as simple as that. I love all sports, and when I’m not sitting at my computer living my dream with The 1014, I am planning adventures. The last time I did this I ended up convincing my wife to cycle 26,125km across three continents, and 22 countries with me as part of the Pedalling Prescotts.

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