Leaders on learning curve: Hooper

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies leaders found themselves at the bottom of another enormous learning curve on Saturday night and vice-captain Michael Hooper says it’s something they need to rectify.

Hooper admitted the side was taken aback by how quickly the All Blacks gained the early advantage, in a first half where coach Michael Cheika said they lost their way.

“We went into that game physically feeling really good,” he said.

“The early ascendancy they got, I think caught us by surprise and the consistent pressure from them throughout the game didn't allow us to get a breath.

The Wallabies leaders have some work to do. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“Credit to the All Blacks, they did well to be able to do that and get such a dominant victory but it was disappointing on our behalf that we couldn't get back into that and then find some way to get our nose in front for a little bit, build blocks, 5 minute, 10 minute blocks to get back in.”

Cheika said looking back was easy but in the heat of the game, the Wallabies needed to improve their level-headedness.

“You go in and you feel you're prepared, things don't go right, you lose your composure a bit...and then we lost our focus, especially in the first half where we went behind so greatly,” he said.

“From there, you've just got to try and work your way back in.

“When it's tough, this is one thing we've got to learn, when it's tough we've got to get stuck in.


“The game's done now, there's nothing we can do about that.

“All we can do something about is next week. It is tough and it's going to be tough all week and we've just got to keep digging in.”

For Hooper, a crucial part of the side’s leadership group, the next step is trying to establish that redirection during the match.

“It comes down to leaders being able to get a direction, get a path to go and get everyone following that and backing it and we weren't able to do that last night,” he said.

Michael Hooper still has faith. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyDespite the record margin, Hooper was unequivocal in his faith that the Wallabies could turn things around and even up the series in Wellington, breaking a 15-year drought in New Zealand in the process.

“I believe we can beat these guys any week,” he said.

“The players we've got, the coaching staff we've got and the want to beat these guys, we're not just filling the numbers.

“We’re not cutting our phases, watching our teammates get injured just because.

“We want to go out there and we want to throw everything we've got at these guys and the other teams we face throughout the year.

“We've got 11 more chances this year, not just Bledisloe but 11 chances this year go out and prove that.

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