Hooper pragmatic about suspension

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Michael Hooper won’t enjoy sitting on the sidelines as his team fight for the top Pool A spot but the Wallabies vice-captain is moving on quickly from his one-match suspension.

Hooper said he was disappointed to be missing a game but happy that the matter was settled and he throw himself into helping the side prepare for Wales.

“I was a bit shocked to find out I was being cited from the weekend,” he said.

“However I think I had a fair trial and can move on and help the team be in the best position for this weekend and train with them.”

The flanker, who will miss just the one match after an early guilty plea to a foul play charge, said his energies would now be fixed on his teammates’ preparations for the Wales game.

“I’ll be focusing more on day to day and focusing on what will be the team running out this weekend, which is a big match against Wales at Twickenham,” he said.

While pragmatic about the penalty, Hooper said it was a blow to be sitting on the sidelines while his teammates played.

“Personally you want to play in every Test match that you can,” he said.

“So, straight away it’s a huge disappointment that I can’t be involved.and put myself forward for selection.

“And secondly to be a part of a team in a world cup and not be there is again another blow.

Hooper’s suspension opens the door for one or both of Sean McMahon and Ben McCalman to come into the match day 23.

McCalman came off the bench in Australia’s win over England, while McMahon was man of the match in the Wallabies’ victory over Uruguay.

Hooper said he had faith in whichever player came into the starting XV for the Pool A decider on Saturday.

“Both are outstanding players and are in really good form,” he said.

“Whoever it is is going to do a fantastic job.”

McMahon could be a straight swap in for Hooper, partnering with David Pocock at number eight and McCalman retaining a bench spot.

Alternatively, Pocock could switch to his preferred number seven spot, with McCalman starting at number eight.

McCalman said on Tuesday morning that whichever situation eventuated from the judiciary, the players would be ready.

“Every week we train as a squad,” he said.

“You look at the depth in the squad, Sean McMahon and myself are in the back row in those positions, so if we’re called upon we’ll certainly be ready.

McCalman said the fact that the entire squad, bar the recent injury replacements, had all had some game time meant any transition would be a simple one.

“It’ll definitely help,” he said.

“The way we train as well with that 15 on 15, running all the role in attack and defence,” he said.

“We’ve got great depth in the squad and everyone will be ready if they get the chance.”

The back row change could be one of three possible changes to the Wallabies team this week as Israel Folau battles an ankle injury and winger Rob Horne almost definitely ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Australia has won their last 10 matches against Wales, though nine of those were by single figure margins, and McCalman said he expected another tight game this time around with the top pool spot up for grabs.

“The games we’ve played have come down to the last 10 minutes,” he said.

“Last year Bernard Foley might have kicked the field goal to win the game, so I expect it to come down (to the last few minutes) and be very tight as well.”