I can't take credit for the rice hulls in a muslin bag as a filter idea. Tasty talked about it on the Brewing Network. I recently ran my plate chiller without the HopRocket filter and it went pretty well, but it was a Robust Porter with minimal hops.
Talking about infections, running boiling wort into the HopRocket with hops doesn't scare me as much as what might be lurking in an unsanitized plate chiller. Next time I brew a hoppy beer, I'm going to use the HopRocket as a hop back to see the different in flavor and aroma.
What I've done recently, is to finish my hour boil and then do a 20min recirc to sanitize everything. I hold the temp in the kettle at 200F for the first five minutes and then let it fall to 180F. This acts like a whirlpool hotstand for the 0min hops additions at a low enough temperature that isomerization should not happen.