In these strange new times in the NRL we find ourselves with a serious shortage of value at the hooker position, and as a result we are forced to look outside of the box for potential options for round 1. Enter the North Queensland Cowboys likely #13 for 2022, Reuben Cotter, who comes complete with dual HOK status.
Lets have a look at the good and bad of Reuben Cotter…
In 2021, Cotter showed out in terms of his ability to handle the NRL from a physicality perspective. His tackle rate increased from 0.64 per minute to 0.73 per minute. What this means is the difference between 32 and 36.5 tackles across a 50 minute stint.
He also showed a very healthy 2.05 run metres per minute (for comparison Cameron Murray is only 1.93 metres per minute in 2021), which would mean just over 100 metres per game.
His base negatives is about -4 per game, meaning we are looking at base stats of around 42 points per game in a 50 minute stint. Coming off a starting break even of 40, that is very promising, particularly considering there is maybe a few extra points in TO tackles too.
Cotter only registered 5 tackle busts and no offloads in 274 minutes of football in 2021. He scored and assisted in precisely 0 tries or line breaks. Jeremiah Nanai in the same team managed to rack up 1 try, 1 try assist, 2 linebreaks and 1 linebreak assist in 60 minutes less football.
If Cotter wants to maintain a role as a “ball playing” lock in the mould of Radley, Watson, Murray, etc he will need to become a lot more involved in attack. The positive spin on this is that he is likely to see more involvement in attack off a full preseason training in the role without injury interruptions.
With players like Scott Drinkwater, Reece Robson and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in the spine, and Chad Townsend marshalling the troops, the opportunities will be there. We just don’t know if Cotter will seize them. In fairness to Reuben, he was coming off an achilles injury, which can take time for the athlete to return to form.
The range of outcomes for Cotter looks like this (assuming he starts):
|45 MINS||55 MINS|
|FPTS METRES, TACKLES, DEMERITS||38||46|
|FPTS ATTACKING UPSIDE||4||12|
As you can see, we are talking about a player with a massive range of outcomes, from essentially no upside at all through to a keeper level scorer.
More than likely, I would suggest splitting the difference here as far as the projection goes, putting him at 48-50 points per game in a 50 minute role. It is important to note that Cotter has a sordid injury history, with his longest stretch of games in a row in the NRL at 6.
If you are someone who likes to “play it safe”, I would suggest looking elsewhere. If you don’t mind taking a risk, Cotter could be a great addition to your squad with potential season long holding upside. Whichever way you decide to go, good luck – you will need it.