AAP Rugby

NRL’s best hookers square off in Melbourne

By AAP Newswire

They're widely considered the two best hookers in the NRL and Melbourne's Cameron Smith and Canberra's Josh Hodgson will battle it out in a top-four blockbuster on Saturday.

They're comfortably the most influential players on their teams but the statistics don't lie - Smith has Hodgson's number in almost every category, most importantly wins.

There's no shame in losing to the Storm legend - arguably every player in the history of the game sits behind the future immortal.

But if the Raiders are to snap a 25-year title drought they'll need Hodgson to outplay Smith at least once between now and grand final day on October 6.

Melbourne (first) host the Green Machine (third) in a crunch battle where Hodgson will be gunning for just his second victory in 11 attempts against Smith.

The Storm skipper has played three more games this season but has more kick metres, tackles, run metres and tackle breaks than Hodgson, and has made fewer errors and conceded less penalties.

Hodgson has more try assists and does dominate Smith in one category - strips.

The Raiders No.9 has 11 one-on-one steals this season and Smith has none.

But Hodgson emphasised he was focusing on the opposition team instead of any one player.

"I honestly don't look at individual battles," Hodgson said.

"You want to play against the best teams and best players in the comp and that's what we're doing this week so I always enjoy that battle.

"(Smith) is obviously a very good leader because he's captained his country and captains his club and has done so for many years.

"But on an individual level, I just try and make sure I'm doing everything I can to get the win, as boring as that sounds that's genuinely what I do."

Canberra co-captain Jarrod Croker said there would be intriguing match-ups across the park in Melbourne.

"There's a lot of hype around (Smith and Hodgson) but there are a few battles across the whole field I'm looking forward to," he said.

"Jack (Wighton) and Cameron Munster locking horns, a couple of big boys up front and arguably the two best hookers in the game in the middle there."