Nothing changing for new-look Tahs

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The NSW Waratahs have a new head coach, new captain and a handful of new recruits but Michael Hooper says there’s no need for anyone to change their expectations.

Hooper said the 2016 Waratahs would try to continue the culture set up under former coach Michael Cheika, that led to a title and semi-final appearance in the past two years.

“We don’t plan on losing,” he said.

“We’ve built a great culture over the last three years to do that.

“Our eyes are forward, the new guys coming in have seen that build over the past three years and they’re excited to make their stamp there.

“You can’t not breed good competition from that and the crop we have, everyone’s pushing (each other).”

A semi-final loss to the Highlanders last year is still lingering in the back of Hooper’s mind and the newly installed captain said they didn’t want to wipe the slate clean.

“I think over the past three years our mentality has been to build something going forward - to take something from the year before and go with it,” he said.

“You never want to have a clean slate otherwise you forget what you did in the years previous.

“We fell short last year so we take great lessons from that.

“If we forget about everything we’re not going to improve.”

While Hooper is confident of the Waratahs’ prospects this season, he said there would be plenty of learning in the year, for him as captain and the entire team.

“I mean it’s going to be a learning process together,” he said.

“We’ve had three good years at it and he’s (former captain Dave Dennis) put this club in an amazing position with a Super Rugby title win.

“We just want to build from there with the group and the leadership men we have here.

“It’s a collective effort. We want the young guys to step up and be putting their hands up as well.”

Hooper hopes the buzz from the Rugby World Cup can carry over to bums on seats as the Super Rugby season begins.

The back rower was a critical part of the Wallabies campaign  and said the momentum generated by their run to the final was keenly felt.

“Over there in particular, there was a fantastic buzz and we had a  support network over in London,” he said.

“Rolling into this year, we want to lots of people in the stands and watching the ‘Tahs because it is a great club, great history and we’ve got some really great guys who want to play an attacking game of rugby.”