Wallaby veteran Quade Cooper started the match from the sidelines at the weekend, but that didn’t stop him from getting involved well before he made his way onto the pitch.
Tom Hooper, an up-and-coming talent, received his starting debut for the Wallabies at the weekend, in a match that for many of his teammates is best forgotten. During the halftime break, 35-year-old Cooper took him aside and offered valuable advice not to emulate the playing style of his namesake, Michael Hooper.
In a strategic move to assert physical dominance over New Zealand, Head Coach Eddie Jones had decided to field the 22-year-old Tom Hooper at openside flanker, instead of the smaller and agile, Fraser McReight. Hooper typically plays in the blindside flanker position for club side Brumbies, but due to his towering size, he was deemed to be the perfect man to create some physical dominance over the All Blacks.
A starting debut that Hooper will want to improve on, he explained what the animated Cooper said to him at half time.
“I probably changed my game a bit too much and Quade had some really wise words at half-time and said, ‘We need you to play more like a lock than a seven, that’s why they’ve picked a big body’,
“I probably went hunting a bit too much for the ball, if I’m being critical of myself, and I probably wasn’t as physical as I would have liked.”
The Wallaby defence has come under plenty of scrutiny following the past couple of matches, with new defence coach Brett Hodgson recieving most of the flack. Hooper was quick to defend the former NRL legend.
“There are the slight tweaks but I think it’s not the framework that’s the problem,
“He’s given us a really good defensive system to work with, it’s just our ability to execute and make those one on one tackles.”
Hooper said before adding that head coach Jones was backing the side who remained tight, calling it “comforting”.
“He knows we’re all hurting, he knows we’re all humans and when you get beaten by a score like that you’re not coming off with a smile on your face,” Hooper added.
“He knows we all feel it and he’s going to channel that anger onto the training pitch and make sure we get quality work done in this week and that’s how we’re going to present a better performance.”
Following their crushing defeat of 38-7 in the opening Bledisloe Cup match at the MCG, the Australian rugby team have swiftly traveled from Melbourne to Dunedin to gear up for their second encounter this coming Saturday.
Unfortunately, the Wallabies have encountered setbacks with injuries to key players. Allan Alaalatoa, who led the team during the last match, is now out of action due to a ruptured Achilles, and co-captain Michael Hooper continues to remain sidelined due to a calf issue. These absences will undoubtedly pose challenges for the side as they prepare for the upcoming game.