Dogs and Rabbitohs face hooking crisis

Friday’s NRL grand final replay looms as a case of history repeating with both Canterbury and South Sydney preparing to enter the key clash without their first-choice hookers.

Canterbury were dealt a massive blow on Sunday when rake Michael Lichaa suffered a potentially season-ending ankle fracture in their 34-16 win over the Gold Coast.

The Dogs are hopeful of Lichaa being back in a few weeks, and will know more on his availability after he goes for scans.

However coach Des Hasler is already weighing up his options.

Josh Jackson acquitted himself well for 76 minutes after being thrown into dummy-half against the Titans when Lichaa was taken from the field but he is expected to return to his normal position in the back row.

With utility Josh Reynolds still sidelined with a knee injury, Hasler has indicated he will turn to NSW Cup No.9 Damien Cook.

“Josh Reynolds is still three weeks away,” Hasler said.

“But Damien Cooke has been doing a great job in (reserve grade) and he’s just been waiting, waiting for his opportunity.

“He’ll step into the fray and he’ll handle it.”

The Rabbitohs have their own hooking dramas with Issac Luke facing a three-to-four week ban for two separate incidents in Thursday’s win over North Queensland.

Luke was hit with shoulder charge and dangerous throw charges by the NRL match review committee.

Should he miss the grand final rematch, it would be reminiscent of last year’s decider in which both sides were forced to field back-up No.9s.

Luke missed South Sydney’s grand final victory due to suspension while Canterbury’s Michael Ennis, who has since linked with Cronulla, was ruled out with a broken foot.

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