'Good in bits, bad in most': Hooper sums up 2017 Waratahs

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

“Good in bits, bad in most.”

With six words, Waratahs captain Michael Hooper summed up his side’s loss to the Jaguares and a season in which they have managed just four wins, none against international opposition, with one game left.

A third consecutive 40-point concession for the first time in Waratahs history and 25 points conceded in half an hour another episode of Groundhog Day for the 2017 team.

And despite that, Hooper and coach Daryl Gibson faced media post-match with as few solutions as they have had all season, though with more visible frustration.

“We've been trying to put our finger on it all year and we haven't found the answer and that's why we're sitting here with these results.

As they look to a week with an emotionally-driven Western Force side, who could be playing the final game in their Super Rugby history, there is a mountain for the Waratahs to climb.

Michael Hooper was frustrated after another Waratahs loss. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile Gibson expressed a desire to finish positively, the side’s post-June attitude has been one with an eye to 2018, a mentality that might take the sting out of whatever result they find in Perth.

“We've got an opportunity to truly play the type of rugby that we want to play,” he said.

“But in saying that, we've already stated that we've started our season for 2018, we're already starting to make changes, the seeds of that are there and we're very clear with the direction we need to go to improve this team.”

Number one in that sense is defence, with their record the club's worst in history, Gibson said.

“The fact that we've only won four games, that's a poor season and it's about getting back to that resolve and not wanting to concede points,” he said.

“That's a huge area for us for next season.”

Both Hooper and Gibson felt lock Ned Hanigan had been dealt a tough hand when yellow carded for striking Pablo Matera in the 29th minute.

Ned Hanigan was yellow-carded. Photo: Getty ImagesHooper dismissed the suggestion the Argentinians had baited the Waratahs with niggle during the game, a habit the Jaguares have inflicted on many opponents.

“We didn't go out there to look to niggle or react to anything,” Hooper said.

“It's a contact sport and I feel for Ned because I didn't think that was  a yellow card.

“There's going to be tough decisions.

“The ref saw it as it was and you've got to make do with what it is.

“The Argentinian sides have that in them and probably made an advantage for them in that little section there.”

Gibson was more reserved in his assessment of the incident.

“I thought it was a bit tough,” he said.

“The law is that it was a strike to the head so that's the law but it was a pretty soft yellow in my view.”

The Waratahs take on the Force next Saturday night, with the Perth side a chance take outright second in the Australian conference.