Waratahs building voice

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs captain Michael Hooper says the side’s leadership is working to fill the vocal void left by the departed Michael Cheika.

“There's definitely been changes with not having such a big personality in the group,” he said.

“There has been more onus on players and staff members to bring a really well rounded voice to the group and it’s been a challenge that's been well adopted from the leaders and the coaching staff.

Hooper said while the vibe was positive so far, the leadership side of things would continue to be a work in progress.

‘It’s going to be a thing that we run with and  work on through the season because it is a different setup but it’s a good one and one that's working for the team at the moment,” he said.

“We’re just excited to get this season underway and start being able to have something to go off and games to look back on.

Hooper is heading into his first Super Rugby as the long-term captain of the Waratahs but said he didn’t feel like he had to shoulder much extra responsibility.

“It’s the Waratahs and we're a collective making the best of what is a really exciting squad,” he said.

“We’ve had some weird preparation going into our trials and different locations and things like that, all of which has been good for us as a team.

“Now it’s nice to be at home after a good week of training and first real run on this field and in this captain’s run.”

The Waratahs job could be made a little bit easier on Saturday night after Reds flanker Liam Gill (back)  was ruled out for the first month of the season.

Hooper has had plenty of clashes with his Queensland counterpart in recent years and said it was disappointing not to see him make the trip.

“I feel for Gilly that he won’t be there tomorrow night and after playing all the trials, however they've got a good guy in Curtis Browning stepping up into that seven position and will do the job soundly,” he said.

“I've played Gilly a lot and now what to expect from him and Curtis not so much.”

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson admitted the absence of Gill had changed their plans.

“I guess for us if Michael Hooper wasn’t playing that would be a big blow,’ he said.

“Gill is a fantastic player and certainly one of the players we’ve been talking about all week.

“It’s disappointing that he’s not going to play because I think it would have been a great challenge for our team.”