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Switch to hooker is worthwhile experiment

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 16, 2013

ExeterChiefsball

ExeterChiefsball

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England Under-20 forward Luke Cowan-Dickie was content with how his first experience of playing hooker went, even though Plymouth Albion lost 21-3 to Rotherham Titans last weekend.

Cowan-Dickie, normally a loose-head prop, was given a chance to try to prove he can make a successful transition to the centre of the front row in the British and Irish Cup match at Brickfields.

England and his club, Exeter Chiefs, believe his long-term future could be at hooker and Plymouth, with whom he is dual-registered, agreed to give him a try in that role.

"It was good," Cowan-Dickie said. "The first line-out I missed, and I thought I was going to be in for a long run, but it went well after that and I was pleased."

Cowan-Dickie admitted he did find quite a bit of difference between the two positions. "As it was my first game there, I was concentrating on my throwing," he said.

"But the scrum is a lot different. There are things I have to work on, but I'm always excited for challenges.

"I just have to train harder, get a bit more throwing practice, and, hopefully, I will come through.

"I'm still going to be playing loose-head as well, but now I can play both.

"That gives me more of an advantage as I can go from loose-head to hooker or hooker to loose-head."

Cowan-Dickie got the nod to start the Rotherham match ahead of his older brother, Tom, and Jamie Salter, who had been looking for a chance to play with regular first-choice hooker Jon Vickers being rested.

"I come down here on Tuesday night and the lads were fine with it," he added. "We had a conversation about me playing hooker and they all backed me up."

Cowan-Dickie said he is learning from his brother, who also made the positional switch from prop to hooker. "He did it, but at an earlier age," he added.

"He was fine with it and said, 'Just give it a go'. He has done some extra practice with me," said Cowan-Dickie, who, along with Exeter clubmates Henry Slade, Sam Hill, Jack Nowell and Jack Arnott, was last week named in the England Under-20 squad for the Six Nations and the IRB Junior World Cup.

Cowan-Dickie said: "I'm in there as a prop at the minute, but they might give me a chance at hooker. We'll just have to see."

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