Waratahs expecting fast derby in Canberra

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Waratahs are expecting a frenetic derby against the Brumbies on Saturday night. 

The Waratahs have had a week off since a dominant win over the Rebels a fortnight ago, and Hooper said he was confident they could continue the momentum from that game.

That match provided a spectacular second half from the Waratahs, but Hooper said the work that was done in a seemingly lacklustre first half was critical in his view.

“We tried to push a few too many passes and didn't just build the pressure but there was certainly a lot of back and forth and our set piece was doing quite well,” he said.

“We knew that we could continue that upwards trajectory through the game and that paid off more than we could have hoped for, particularly 70 minutes in.”

That they were able to fatigue the Rebels will be something the Waratahs want to hang on to against the Brumbies, who Hooper said had some fast-paced rugby in them.

“We know with the intent they're playing with the ball across all parts of the field has been impressive,” he said.

“They've got great ball movement and we know they've got quick ruck speed in attack and they're able to get over the ad line well.

“It's something they've been showing and traditionally these guys are great with their set piece and we know they'll have that and it's the other little bits that have been a bit of a change in breaking down some of their tape.”

Hooper said he expected his opposite number, David Pocock, to come out on a mission in his 100th Super Rugby games and first match in Australia since 2016.

While his on-field exploits will be invaluable for the Brumbies, Hooper said his off-field qualities would be just as dangerous.

“He adds a lot to their team,” he said.

“I'm not saying the guys haven't been doing a good job, but as far as morale and things go and a big signing coming back and after being away for a while.

“I'm sure he'll have a point to prove on the weekend and we'll do our best to stop that.”

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson echoed his captain’s comments, warning of Pocock’s influence around the Brumbies.

“It's a huge difference, particularly from a leadership point of view and what he brings to the team,” he said.

“That presence over the ball and in the breakdown and just having back, it'll be a boost for them.”

The Waratahs take on the Brumbies on Saturday night, at 7:45pm AEDT. Buy tickets here.