The pecking order: Locks

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Australian lock stocks are deep in 2017.

They're filled by a combination of players at the peak of their powers, others on the other side of the prime and those just beginning their journey to Wallaby gold.

On form through the first seven rounds of Super Rugby, here is how the pecking order stands.

1. Rory Arnold

Rory Arnold has been in great form for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images Arnold and Sam Carter form the best second row in Australian Super Rugby right now.

The pair were impossible to split through the first six rounds but with Carter resting against the Reds, Arnold's star shone brighter than any forward on the field.

It wasn't just the two first half line breaks that caught the eye, as his work rate around the park remains top notch and his lineout work is as good as ever.

He consistently delivers clean ball to Joe Powell off the top of lineouts and that is an underrated facet of a lock's game.

2. Sam Carter

Arnold's captain and fellow lock has taken his game to a new level in 2017.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has spoken openly about the positive impact the captaincy has had on Carter's game after he fell out of the Wallabies' best 23 last year.

Carter is churning through more carries, making more tackles and proving to be a consistent option at lineout time.

3. Adam Coleman

Adam Coleman has missed the majority of 2017. Photo: Getty ImagesColeman hurt his calf in the Force's round two win over the Reds but is expected back in the coming weeks.

If fit, he is a big chance to be in Michael Cheika's starting XV come June, as he offers an all-round package in the second row.

He carries the ball with a touch more athleticism than Carter and is just as handy in his lineout work and in directing mauls.

4. Ned Hanigan

Hanigan has not looked back since being handed a starting gig. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyHanigan has played in the second row and the back row for the Tahs this year and he doesn't look like handing back the starting spot he was given in Jack Dempsey's absence.

He was part of Michael Cheika's Wallaby catch up in Canberra and that's no doubt thanks to his tireless work around the park.

He hits as many rucks, if not more, than the three players above him on this list and carries the ball with physicality similar to Coleman.

At just 21, Hanigan has a big future.

5. Matt Philip

Just as Hanigan has taken his starting opportunity with both hands, Philip has made the most of Coleman's calf injury.

Another young prospect, Philip appears to thrive in ultra-physical contests and uses all of his 199cm, 115kg frame around the field.

6. Rob Simmons

Simmons is still a lineout supremo. Photo: Getty ImagesAmong the best in the world rugby lineout business, Simmons is still the premier lineout caller in Australia. 

Where his game suffers, though, is in general play.

He struggles to make an impact with ball in hand in comparison to the likes of Arnold, Coleman, Hanigan and Philip.

7. Izack Rodda

Nick Stiles has warmed to the physical game of Rodda in 2017, preferring him to Kane Douglas at different stages throughout the season so far.

Izaia Perese summed Rodda up best when he said "a lot of big guys don't use their size - he uses his size."

A beast around the park that is just a touch green in some defensive decision making and in his lineout work.

8. Kane Douglas

Douglas has had a down year to date, coming off the bench behind Rodda when he's been fit.

His usually imposing carries have not been there but his defensive work is as sharp as ever.

9. Will Skelton

While Rodda uses every bit of his frame to get the Reds over the gain line, Skelton has done anything but this season.

He has been urged along by Michael Hooper but is yet to hit top gear for the Tahs.

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