Scrum doctor no secret Waratahs weapon

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper says the addition of Wallabies scrum coach Mario Ledesma at training this week has been handy, but won’t be a secret weapon against the Jaguares.

Ledesma is pitching in for the Waratahs in the final fortnight of the Super Rugby season, in the contact and set piece area, before U20s coach Simon Cron joins the group in 2018.

“His ability to have a lighter and a really serious side to get the job done’s fantastic,” he said.

“He’s a great coach and has been really good for our guys in here with his technical ability and nous.

“Another great face in this Waratah culture to get these two games done to the best of our ability .

Ledesma’s intimate knowledge of the Argentinians will be handy for the Waratahs but Hooper said they couldn’t rely on that.

“He has a great knowledge of the Jaguares but they know what that as well,” he said.

“You don’t know what they’ll change up or try and pul lout of their hat knowing that we’ve had Mario in and around the camp this week.”

Hopper said there was only one way the Waratahs can salvage some positivity out of the final two weeks on the field.

“Absolute belligerence to stay to our shape and our belief of how we want to see this year,” he said.

“ Yeah, the opposition put different pictures in front of you than you expect but I think our shape when it’s played really well, we can compete with the best teams in the competition and we’ve shown that.

“It’s completely on us when we go away from that and it’s frustrating that it's’ a broken record, that we’re saying the same thing but it’s that simple and it’s that hard at the same time.”

Though Hooper’s body is put through the wringer more than almost every other Australian player, the 25-year-old said watching last week’s All Blacks-Lions Test made him feel like he was missing out.

“You have a week off and your body feels sorer than the grind you get into during the season,’ he said.

“Your body manages to find a place of being comfortable and getting around it and you go ‘yeah, a week off would be good’.

“You watch last weekend’s game down there in New Zealand  and you go what am I missing a weekend for?’

“It’s pretty good to watch and you wish you were out there so I’m excited about tomorrow night.”

There’ll be an extra level of emotion with home farewells for Dean Mumm and Rob Horne this weekend and Hooper said that would be felt on Saturday.

“I think that’s when it will start really coming in tomorrow,” he said.

“I know Rob relatively well, and when he runs out tomorrow night there’ll be maybe a little sparkle in his eye or something like that,.

“This is a place they’ve put so much blood, sweat and tears into.”

The Waratahs take on the Jaguares on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO