The role of the hooker has changed dramatically over the decades; the No.9 used to play a very important role in the era of contested scrums, hooking the ball back for their team. Nowadays, they are the fulcrum of a team's attack - their quick and accurate passing is key to getting their side on the front foot, whilst their running game out of acting half can cause opponents all kinds of trouble. Super League has seen some wonderful No.9s over the years, but none more so than these five:

James Roby

Progressing through the St Helens academy, James Roby has played all his career at the Lancashire club.

Debuting in 2004, Roby has played nearly 400 games for Saints, scoring 89 tries and, remarkably, one goal. In 14 years, the dynamic hooker has won three Challenge Cups (2006, '07 and '08), two Super League titles (2006 and 2014) and one World Club Challenge and played a crucial role in St Helens' treble-winning season in 2006. Individually, Roby has been included in five Super League Dream Teams, and won the Harry Sunderland Trophy - awarded to the man-of-the-match in the Grand Final - in 2014 as well as the Man of Steel in 2007.

Roby's form over his career so far has been nothing short of sublime; he is a workhorse - the definition of a team player - yet he is also one of the most effective dummy-half runners in the game.

No wonder then that he has won seven Great Britain and 30 England caps - scoring one try and five tries for the sides respectively. Roby is a perfect role model for youngsters - he puts the hours in on the training field and it shows. Even at the age of 31 - after a two-year absence from the national side - Roby earned an England call-up for the 2017 World Cup after playing a key role in Saints' remarkable transformation under Justin Holbrook.

Roby is a class act - on and off the field - and, frighteningly, he still has many years ahead of him aged just 32.

Keiron Cunningham

St Helens have been blessed with fantastic hookers for the past three decades with James Roby taking over the mantle left by Keiron Cunningham when he retired in 2010 after 16 years at St Helens.

Cunningham debuted in 1994 and went on to play 496 games, scoring 175 tries. The short, stocky No.9 won three Challenge Cups with the Saints, one Grand Final and one World Club Challenge.

Despite being just 5 ft 9, Cunningham weighed 107kg and, because of his low centre of gravity, was an incredibly powerful runner. He was a fearsome defender and an aggressive character, but perfect to have on your team. Cunningham deservedly earned representative honours - nine caps with Wales and 14 with Great Britain. Towards the back end of his career, Cunningham and Roby made a devastating partnership - the former did all the donkey work before the latter exploited the tired defence - it was one of the greatest hooking duos of the Super League era.

James Lowes

Though James Lowes played most of his career before the creation of Super League in 1996, he was still an integral part of Bradford's early Super League success. Prior to joining the Bulls, Lowes played five years at Hunslet and four at Leeds, becoming a fearsome and physical No.9. In 1996, the 5 ft 9 hooker joined Bradford. For seven years he donned the Bulls shirt, registering 238 appearances and scoring 98 tries as well as kicking six goals and two drop-goals.

At the West Yorkshire side, Lowes won two Challenge Cups, two Super League titles and one World Club Challenge with the hooker being one of the standout performers in Bradford's "Golden Era". In 1997, Lowes's individual form - he ended that year as Bradford's top try-scorer - was rewarded with the Man of Steel, making him only the second Bradford player to win the highest individual accolade after Ellery Hanley's success in 1985 (albeit with Bradford Northern).

Lowes' brilliant league form ensured that he earned representative honours. With Ireland he registered one appearance and with Great Britain five - scoring one try for both. In August 2007, Lowes was named in Bradford's 'Team of the Century' which gave the durable No.9 due recognition for the tremendous work he did for the Bulls on the field.

Terry Newton

Despite playing for local amateur side Wigan St Judes, Orrell-born Terry Newton was snapped up by Leeds in 1996 and made his debut for the club aged just 18. In four seasons at Leeds, Newton played 83 games, scoring six tries and was part of the Rhinos' 1999 Challenge Cup winning side. At the end of 1999, the hooker moved to his boyhood club Wigan where he took his game to the next level.

Over the course of five years, Newton notched up 62 tries in 186 appearances. Despite appearing in three Grand Finals for the Warriors and one for Leeds, Newton lost all four and by the time the feared No.9 left Wigan at the end of 2005, he had only one winners' medal from his time there - which came in the 2002 Challenge Cup.

Newton's third club was Bradford and Newton again excelled, yet, in the four seasons that he played at Odsal, Bradford failed to make any of the major finals - a sign of the slippery slope that was to come for the Bulls. For Bradford, Newton scored 27 tries in 90 appearances.

Newton's Bradford contract expired at the end of 2009 and the hooker moved to another West Yorkshire side, this time Wakefield.

Here however, Newton played just twice before he was banned in February 2010 for two years whilst his contract was ripped up at Trinity after failing a drug test - the test had been taken in November 2009. In a horrific turn of events, Newton committed suicide in September 2010.

Throughout his Rugby League career, Newton had been a top-class player. At 5 ft 10 and 100kg, he was in the mould of a typical hooker and played the game with a certain tenacity and toughness that has drifted out of the modern game. It was no surprise therefore, that Newton earned 15 caps for Great Britain and three for England in his 14-year career. All of Rugby League still mourns the death of such a talented player and one that gave his all to each and every club he played for.

Matt Diskin

Matt Diskin made his Leeds debut in 2001 and would go on to play the whole decade for the Rhinos, racking up 264 appearances and 44 tries. For Leeds, Diskin won four Grand Finals - he was awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy for a man-of-the-match performance in the 2004 Grand Final - and one World Club Challenge, becoming a key figure in Leeds' Super League dominance towards the end of the noughties.

At the end of 2010, Diskin moved to local rivals Bradford and though he failed to win any trophies with the Bulls, the wily hooker was still an integral part of the Bradford squad. Diskin scored 13 tries in 86 appearances before retiring at the end of 2014 after taking up the role as player-coach with the Bulls midway through the season. Though his club form for Leeds especially was impressive, Diskin was often overlooked for national honours and won just one Great Britain cap throughout his 14-year professional career.