Waratahs need 'smart' rugby against Reds

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs captain Michael Hooper says NSW needs to play smart rugby against the Reds, in their back to the future clash at the SCG.

NSW has won the past seven interstate derbies between the two sides, and Hooper said they could take something from that.

“It's positive for us but it's also some great motivation for them, whatever way you look at it,” he said.

“What we have taken from them is building pressure on them, playing smart.

“They're a really big pack, how we can make that our best and use that to our advantage is important.”

The Waratahs will be facing an emerging Reds’ forward pack that has made a stamp this season, and Hooper had plenty of praise for his opposite number in Liam Wright, who has come into the openside spot after a backrow reshuffle.

“They've got some outstanding ball carriers,” he said.

“I know that Taniela's (Tupou) not playing and Scott (Higginbotham) won't be able to take the field tomorrow night and then they bring in someone like Lukhan (Tui) straight into the fold and looking straight across at numbers, Liam Wright's got a huge amount of potential I think as a player.

“He's  a different type of seven in the height that he's got.

“Across their forward pack, they've got different threats and something we have to be ready for.”

Hooper said teammate Israel Folau was in ‘positive’ after a controversial week for the Wallabies and Waratahs star, over an Instagram comment saying that God’s plan for gay people was “Hell...unless they repent their sins and turn to God".

“I've spoken to Izzy in a training capacity pretty briefly. He's been in getting his hammy right, which is coming along really well,” he said.

“But other than that, boys have checked in to see if he's okay and he's positive, his hammy's getting better and he's looking to get back on the field soon.”

The Waratahs host the Reds at the SCG on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.