Hanigan's form lifting Tahs teammates: Hooper

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Michael Hooper has watched Ned Hanigan transform from wiry teen to a Super Rugby force but believes the young flanker is capable of bigger and better things.

Hanigan seems to add a different wrinkle to his game with every passing match.

He added a pair of neat offloads to his typically powerful carries against the Highlanders and Hooper said the 22-year-old's performances were lifting the rest of the Waratahs.

"Regardless of whether you have been there for one, 10 or 15 years, seeing other guys want to beat the opposition individually and physically is a huge booster," Hooper said.

"A great moment for Ned was down in Melbourne at the start of the year, bumping a fantastic winger in Marika (Koroibete) when he was pretty much over the try line - I loved that.

"Personally for Ned and his game and his want to take on really class players, my message to him would be to not stop there.

"He needs to keep going because he has so much to offer.

"I'm really excited to see where he can take his game and how he can develop.

"I want him to lock down the things that he does really well and as a team we can benefit from the the things that he does really well."Hanigan has made a starting spot his own this year. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Waratahs skipper is chuffed for both Hanigan and Jack Dempsey after Michael Cheika named the pair in his first Wallabies squad of 2017.

"Being someone that has watched the growth, particularly in someone like Ned as a person and as a player, a couple of years ago we were seeing a real thin, wiry backrower to now be someone who has put the kind of performances he has this season - he works hard," Hooper said.

"Hard work pays off - really happy for him.

"With Jack, he has had a tough start to the year with injury but to keep grinding out and getting fit to work back to where he is now - he's in great shape.Jack Dempsey will return to Super Rugby tomorrow. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"He couldn't be keener.

The Waratahs know any hope they have of playing finals football is now out of their hands.

A Brumbies win against the Rebels would clinch the Australian Conference title for the Canberra-based side but Hooper said his team is confident of breaking the Australian duck against Kiwi teams this season.

"Nothing has changed for us," Hooper said.

"It's a do-or-die situation as it has been over the last couple of weeks now.

"It's a great team to do it against - a team we have a good history with.

"But it's also a team doing very well.

"With a few guys getting picked in a Wallabies squad during the week, we are really looking for them to have a mark on the game and show what they can put out there."

The Waratahs take on the Chiefs at FMG Stadium Waikato tomorrow afternoon, kicking off at 3:05pm, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.