Wallabies' year to come full circle in London

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies’ 2016 improvement will be put to the test on Saturday, when they meet their first opponents of the year in their final clash.

Vice-captain Michael Hooper said a loss against Ireland was ‘tough to take’ after a strong second half comeback, in which they pulled themselves out of a 17-point hole to lead in the 57th minute after a Sefa Naivalu try.

“They got out really hard which put us under the pump straight away,” he said.

“We felt like at halftime we hadn't had any opportunity to attack, which was probably the case. I thought the guys came back really well but to get pipped like that at the end was really tough to take."

Hooper said the most important thing for the Wallabies was maintaining their intensity and approaching the game as if it the Slam were still up for grabs.

“Like Michael [Cheika] and Stephen [Moore] have been saying this whole trip, we'll restart and go back to zero, build from there,” he said.

“We'll take this game just as hard as we would've had there been a grand slam on the line.

“Every Test match is massive for us. We want to play the best we possibly can in this jersey and do better than we did tonight.”

Hooper’s backrow partner David Pocock was complaining to referee Jerome Garces after Ireland’s second try about being held off the ball and Hooper said he wasn’t surprised that Ireland tried to take Pocock out of the game.

“I didn't see that going on,” he said.

“It's going to be a tactic of teams - the guy is great around the ball. Again we'll look at how we can deal with that sort of stuff on Monday.”

Saturday’s clash will be the ultimate litmus test in many ways for the Wallabies, with their revamped side going up against England, who took a 3-nil series win in Australia in June.

Hooper said the chance to show how far they had come would be pivotal in the Twickenham matchup on Saturday.

“We're a completely different side, 13 new caps from the start of this year,” he said.

“Finishing on a high is going to be huge for us

“It's like coming full circle from playing them at the start of the year to seeing where we are now. We're excited to put our best men up against them.” - Michael Hooper

A call is yet to be made on the availability of halfback Will Genia, who has been influential in the Tests he has played when Stade Francais has released the 28?-year-old.

The Wallabies flew to London on Sunday ahead of their final clash of 2016.

Australia will take on England at Twickenham on Sunday December 4, kicking off at 1:30am AEDT, LIVE on SBS and Foxtel’s beIn Sports