Pocock talks up Hooper as Cheika mulls team selections

Date published: September 5 2016

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Michael_Hooper_Australia

David Pocock has come to defence of team-mate Michael Hooper, insisting the flanker's work-rate is underrated.

Coach Michael Cheika started playing two opensiders, Pocock and Hooper, as a World Cup stop-gap last year but has continued with the system since. Australia are seeking to halt their six-game losing streak when they face South Africa in Brisbane on Saturday which means Cheika could opt for a more traditional back-row.

Cheika could decide to move Hooper to the bench so that Pocock can move back to openside flank, which means he could either employ Sean McMahon or the uncapped Lopeti Timani at numbetr eight.

Pocock declined to comment on team selections but did stress Hooper's importance to the team.

"I really enjoy playing alongside Hoops," Pocock told AAP on Monday.

"His workrate is huge. If you look at the metres he gets through and the ground he covers, it's pretty impressive. Selection issues, you've got to talk to the people making decisions.

"But as a player I'm really enjoying playing alongside him and we'll keep working hard on that combination and trying to make it better and improve it."

McMahon played at No 8 for the first time in his Test career during June's series against England when Pocock was unavailable due to a fractured eye socket, a move that was described at the time as the biggest gamble of Cheika's coaching career.

Timani has been a strong performer for the Melbourne Rebels at Super Rugby level and Saturday's match at Suncorp Stadium – where the Springboks have only won three times in 13 attempts – could present a good opportunity for the 25-year-old to be blooded at international level.

The Wallabies will name their team to face South Africa on Thursday.

COMMENTS