Hibbard hailed as 'best hooker in Europe'
December 29, 2012
Richard Hibbard won the last of his 19 Wales caps in the shock defeat to Samoa last month © Getty Images
Wales hooker Richard Hibbard has been described as the finest hooker in Europe.
The glowing tribute came from former Wales hooker and Ospreys forward coach Jonathan Humphreys having seen an in-form Hibbard inspire his region to their recent victories over French giants Toulouse and Welsh rivals Scarlets.
Hibbard, who has recently returned from a shoulder injury suffered in Wales' shock defeat to Samoa last month, is set to vie with Scarlets duo Matthew Rees and Ken Owens for the No.2 shirt for the forthcoming Six Nations but Humphreys is convinced that his man is the frontrunner.
"Richard is outstanding and I don't think there's much to touch him in Europe right now," he told the Western Mail. "He's come back from injury in half the time that people said he should have done, which speaks volumes for the kid. To pull himself off the field against Samoa I knew it was something serious. But he said he would be all right for Toulouse and he was."
Hibbard was part of a dominant Ospreys front row that dominated Scarlets on Boxing Day which also included returning Lions tight-head Adam Jones and Wales loose-head prop Ryan Bevington who has also impressed Humphreys of late.
"He does stuff on a rugby field that not a lot of loose-heads can do," said Humphreys. "His tackle the other night with George North having a big head of steam up was remarkable. There are not a lot of loose-heads around who can pull off a tackle like that. The sky's the limit for him. It's about making sure he fully realises his potential."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor