Hooper wants Wallabies to bounce back

Date published: November 22 2014

Australia must rediscover the style they played in their win over Wales a fortnight ago if they are to beat Ireland on Saturday.

Australia must rediscover the style they played in their 33-28 win over Wales a fortnight ago if they are to beat Six Nations champions Ireland on Saturday.

That is the word from Wallabies captain Michael Hooper – who has retained the captaincy under Michael Cheika having been appointed by the latter’s predecessor Ewen McKenzie when Stephen Moore suffered a season ending injury in June.

Hooper said Australia were under pressure to become more consistent.

And the 23-year-old flanker admitted it would be a tough challenge to rebound from the 29-26 defeat by France last Saturday against an Irish side that has won six successive tests, including against France in Paris in March and the Springboks a fortnight ago in Dublin.

“The Irish are confident and tough to beat,” said Hooper, who when he took on the captaincy became the youngest Wallaby skipper since Ken Catchpole in 1961.

“We have been up and down and basically inconsistent.

“We need to pick up again from where we left off against Wales.

“Last weekend we did put ourselves in with a chance of winning (against the French) but ultimately it was a disappointing result and performance.

“The Irish put in a really good performance against the ‘Boks and that puts the pressure on us. Also they now have the third ranking in the world which we have held for most of this year so it would be nice to get that back.”

Hooper, who was sporting a black eye which he said came from ‘friendly fire’ on the training ground, said that consistency would only be found once each player fulfilled the role assigned to him on the pitch.

“We are a work in progress and no player’s position in the side is assured,” said Hooper, who captained the Cheika-coached Waratahs to Super Rugby success this year.

“Each one of us has to prove to the other we can do our stuff.

“Once we can do that we can grow and we have done this at times this year.”

Hooper, who singled out Irish fly-half Jonathan Sexton as the player the Wallabies had to stop, said the five match tour was proving a tough exercise but, with a view to the World Cup next year in England, a worthwhile one.

“Each week we are playing a top class side – we have the Poms (England) up last next weekend, and they present different challenges which means a really quick turnaround and assessment of what they are after you finish your previous test match,” he said.

“‘Cheiks’ has been really pushing us hard in training, its really been that and then going to bed early has been the routine!

“Defeat last weekend was really tough to take both for the players and for him so this week that training has been extra intensive.”

Hooper, who showed he was a star of the future when he was named player of the U20 World Championship in 2011, admitted that the players who played against Ireland weren’t just playing to be selected for the next match but also their World Cup places.

“There are an abundance of players here and back in Australia who are in contention for the World Cup,” he said.

“No one’s spot is safe.”