Wallabies' views mixed on warm-up matches

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper sees the value in adding a warm-up game to the national side’s schedule, but only if it is a genuine competition.

Most of Australia’s players had not played a game in a month heading into the opening Bledisloe, against a New Zealand side in which the majority had featured in Super Rugby finals.

The All Blacks also played out a warm-up game against two of their counties - dubbed the ‘game of three halves’ - routing Taranaki and Counties Manukau in their two portions, 57-7 and 49-0.

Hooper said he could see the upside of playing a lead-in match, but only if it replicated proper match intensity, at some level.

Michael Hooper sees the merit in a warm-up match. Photo: Getty Images“It definitely has some merit,” he said.

“I don't think an in-house game is the way forward. If you are practising and using calls, there's no point playing a game where the other team knows them too.

“But against another team? We did it back in 2013 against a club on the Sunshine Coast and it wasn't productive at all because we were too dominant.

“If you could find an Aussie BaaBaas or something like that, then there might be some good merit in an idea like that.

“Obviously there is the risk of injury to consider as well.”

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was adamant a warm-up game wouldn’t have been the game change for Australia.

“Warm up game's not going to - the things we think are important aren't going to (be improved with a warm-up game),” he said.

“We'll always trying to look for an answer, one single answer and it's never one single thing. It's about a collective of people doing a collection of things right on the day and at the right intensity and that's what we didn't bring and that's why we got beaten.

“The goal will be to bring that together this week.”

Bernard Foley isn't entirely sold on a warm-up match. Photo: Getty ImagesFlyhalf and vice-captain Bernard Foley said he didn’t feel that playing an extra game in the lead-up would be ultimately beneficial.

“Yes and no,” he said.

“We've replicated 15 on 15 now for a couple of weeks, so that wasn't the same as a game but it was very similar.

“We train under 15 on 15 so it's not that we haven't had that defence or having that constant pressure in our face.”

The Wallabies take on New Zealand on Saturday, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS.