Wallabies leaders evolving: Hooper

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has talked about the importance of evolving ahead of the Bledisloe Cup and flanker Michael Hooper admits leadership is one area that needs it most.

The Wallabies’ dealings with referees on field, especially the communication between captain and official, came under fire in June and Hooper said it was something they were working on.

Michael Hooper says the Wallabies leaders need to grow. Photo: Getty Images“It's got to be an area of focus,” he said.

“We were good in the back end of that series and Super Rugby teams are concerned we're trying to get the right messages across to the referees.

“They've got the hardest job on the field, managing the game so working with them in a way that makes for a great spectacle is tough and we're getting better at that as a playing group.”

Wallabies captain Stephen Moore and refere Craig Joubert during the June series. Photo: Getty ImagesHooper admitted that in the heat of battle, sometimes emotions were hard to keep a lid on, but said communication was definitely a priority for growth.

“It's hard, you're out there in the heat of the battle ,you're getting hit by massive guys and then you've got to run ks and all this stuff so your minds at a million miles an hour,” he said.

“It's a skill. It's not something you can develop overnight and I know it's something we're working on and enjoying working on because I think it can be an improvement in our game.”

The return of experienced European players Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Will Genia and Adam Ashley-Cooper will no doubt help that leadership element, with Ashley-Cooper one of the vice-captains in recent years.

Adam Ashley-Cooper was a Wallabies vice-captain last year. Photo: Getty ImagesHooper said that group would definitely help, but ultimately it came down to those appointed to lead the side to take the next step.

“From as far as a leadership group, we wanted to grow our role from that series in June, started doing that in bits and pieces,” he said.

“You’ve got the dynamic of the European guys back who have a huge bearing on the team on and off the field so it's getting aligned with them and getting across what we need to do to improve from that series.

“They've (the Europe-based players_ played so much footy in their years that they know what it's about but it's more just coming down to the leaders.

“It's not an area we've highlighted going it's really bad by no means but it's just an area we can improve like all of our game play.”