Hooper backs Arnold to fill enforcer role

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Adam Coleman’s Bledisloe absence takes a physical edge from the Wallabies, but captain Michael Hooper is confident Rory Arnold can take up that role in Dunedin.

Since making his debut in 2016, Coleman has become somewhat of an enforce in the Wallabies’ forward pack, setting the tone for the rest of his teammates at crucial points.

Without the 25-year-old in their ranks, Hooper said the responsibility would likely fall to Rory Arnold, who will replace Coleman in ths starting ranks.

Arnold’s starting partner Rob Simmons has had his own rollercoaster when it comes to aggression, with coach Michael Cheika not happy with his lack of it in recent times.

Hooper said Arnold would be the one to take the load on.

“Rory's really got that in him,: he said.

Rory Arnold has shown his physicality at Super Rugby. Photo: Getty Images“In Super Rugby he does that week-to-week and we need that transition with Adam out, to come in there and fill that, not huge void, but definitely something that Adam prides his game on is that physical side, especially around the ruck.”

Cheika said no single player could do that, challenging each of them to try and fill that role.

“I am going to ask 15 guys to do that. That's the way the game should be.

“The physicality of the game and all of the contact part of the game has to come down to every player in the team.

“Yes, Adam likes to be involved in that. We'll see who is prepared to step up and maybe take the lead there.

“But he'll need everyone following him.”

The Wallabies’ mentality will be put to the sword this weekend as much as anything, with the ultimate challenge to stop any momentum slides.

It was their inability to do that in Sydney which  let the All Blacks break the game open in Sydney, scoring five tries in 23 minutes, and taking a record first-half lead.

Hooper said turning the tables while the game was still going had been a focus.

“Yeah certainly starting hard, ( having) really good communication about how we get out of our area and relieve pressure, is an important thing for this weekend,” he said.

“The last game, the back-to-back tries and points that we allowed them, it was really hard to deal with.

“So minimising those things, putting pressure back onto New Zealand is really important.”

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks in Dunedin on Saturday night, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS.