You could be forgiven for thinking Aidan Sezer’s foray into the number 9 jersey (figuratively of course) looked underdone during Sunday night’s loss to the Gold Coast Titans. Just how under-prepared would surprise most Raiders’ fans though, with the star revealing that he’d only been training in the position for two weeks.
I have to admit I was dumbstruck by this information. Josh Hodgson injured himself in November last year. The Raiders had quickly picked up Craig Garvey and Siliva Havili before we all clocked off for Christmas. There were rumours in January that Blake Austin might spend some time in hooker.
But after all that, Coach Stuart decided that the player who would spend the majority of his time at hooker would be Sezer. What’s more, it took him until just before the the trial match to decide it.
Sezer is now playing in a more physical position that requires more tackling and a completely different set of technical skills. Passing off the ground and deceiving defenders with your eyes and body position are tactics that take full-time hookers a long time to perfect. Heck, some hookers never work it out. Sezer was given two weeks to work this out. This is all occurring while he’s trying to earn a contract for 2019. One can imagine how he felt when being told this information.
It’s not like the Raiders don’t have other options. Siliva Havili played only 25 miuntes on Sunday despite his satisfactory performance. Craig Garvey was also good in his stint in the Raiders only trial match, and reportedly performed well for the Mounties last weeked.
Aidan Sezer was admirable in defence at hooker. And for a guy who had two weeks to work it out, he did fine. He wasn’t the Raiders best option at 9 – that was Siliva Havili. It was clear that when Sezer was in hooker that the ruck service was markedly slower. For the record I think Sezer should be starting in the halves alongside Sam Williams.
This information is all the more frustrating given how functional the side looked with a proper hooker and a proper halfback. The talent is there, but it is not best served when you put part-time players in critical position.
But we can’t blame Sezer for that. If his statement is accurate the blame should lie squarely at the feet of the man who took 3 months to make up his mind.