Fast start key to Bloemfontein success: Hooper

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

There are very few songs, if any, that gets an Australian's blood pumping quite like Cold Chisel's Khe Sanh and that was the tune of choice for the Wallabies captain's run in Bloemfontein.

As Jimmy Barnes' final lyrics echoed around Free State Stadium, Michael Hooper was leading his troops around the park for one last hitout, one last chance to tune up before the Sunday morning (AEST) blockbuster.

The skipper's message was clear.

"Start fast, start well and put pressure on these guys," he said.

"We were disappointed and it's been well written about our start down in Canberra.Can Hooper and the Wallabies replicate the success they had in Canberra? Photo: Walmsley"Just allowing the opposition into the game off things we are doing off our own bats.

"(We need to be) coming out, being the first to strike tomorrow night."

Hooper believes the two first starters in the forward pack will help put the Wallabies on the front foot, early in the piece, before Lukhan Tui throws his weight around in the second term.

"I've been really impressed with those guys," Hooper said.

"I've been with Jack (Dempsey) for quite a while, he had a great game here a couple of years ago with the Tahs against the Cheetahs.

"Lukhan has been amazing at training.Hooper wants to reverse the poor result in Pretoria this time last year. Photo: Walmsley"The attention to detail and the aggression that has been shown has been fantastic and then Rods has been doing it for weeks now.

"To get these guys genuine minutes on the field tomorrow night, which we will with the bench we have picked, that will happen, there is plenty of opportunity for guys there to state a claim."

Above all, Hooper will be looking to rectify the 18-10 loss in Pretoria in the corresponding fixture last year, a performance that brought back bad memories for the captain.

"We were really disappointed with that performance last year," he said.

"We let the game get away from us.

"I thought we were in control in parts and we were able to run in some nice tries and put the pressure on.

"But slowly the discipline, among other things, mistakes, errors, a lack of urgency, allowed that to creep back in the game."

The Wallabies take on the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning, 1am AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.