Dismal weekend shouldn't define Australian rugby: Hooper

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Australian Super Rugby teams can’t let themselves be defined by a disastrous weekend of defeats, Wallabies and Waratahs captain Michael Hooper says.

All four Australian franchises went down to foreign opposition in round 10, with the Waratahs going scoreless for the first time in their Super Rugby history.

Hooper said, though, that the critical thing was ensuring that didn’t repeat in the rest of the season.

“One loss doesn't define your season, one loss doesn't mean you're a bad team,” he said.

“The Rebels went (3-0) with bonus points in each one of those games, so they've got a lot to be confident about.

“Likewise with the other Australian teams. I think there's so much left in the season - six games, five for us before the Irish stuff. Everyone's in with a shout and competitive.


“In my position, building resilience is really important.

“One game doesn't mean you're a bad team, it just means you've got to learn from the missed opportunities.”

Speaking specifically on the Waratahs, Hooper said a loss to the Lions showed a lack of maturity in the second half, especially, after dominating plenty of attacking statistics in the opening stanza.

“What probably the leaders, the game managers within that Waratahs group didn't do well was play to where the Lions weren't strong,” he said.

“Where they are really strong is when they get in your 22, they score points.

“Then for whatever reason, because maybe we started to feel like we couldn't score points and were getting frustrated we started playing out of that area and sure enough they turned it over and just were able to wear us down with their maul and their scrum,” he said.

“Then once we got points put on (us), we're chasing them down, we tried to do those high pressure plays and that's unfortunately showed a bit of immaturity in our team and something we've got to improve at.”

Michael Hooper. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThe Waratahs are still on top of the Australian conference despite the defeat, given the failings of the other Aussie sides on the weekend, and both NSW and the Rebels still sit in the finals race.

If that remains until the end of the season it would be the first time Australia has had two teams in the Super Rugby knockouts since 2015, with the Brumbies the only finalists in recent years.

It’s a factor that could be critical when it comes to preparing for the opening Bledisloe in August, a match where the Wallabies have been caught out the past two years.

Where the All Blacks have opted for warm-ups in the form of their 'game of three halves' in the lead-in to those matches, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is not a fan of the idea, and neither is his captain.

“I was part of the Lions squad when we had a warm up game against a club team on the (Sunshine) coast and I think that actually didn't work for us,” Hooper said.

“Our players ran through them relatively easily and it doesn't prepare you for what you're going to face in the best team in the world.

“Can you find a team that's going to give you a really strong hitout and able to test your shape, I'm not sure how you're able to do that, how you're able to fit that scheduling wise.”

Having more teams in the finals, though, would at least close the break between Super Rugby and Test rugby, with Australian sides having had nearly a month before the Rugby Championship the past two years, while Kiwi sides were still in the midst of finals.

“We drew with them (New Zealand) in 2014 and that was off the back of players coming in a week before, the Waratahs contingent coming in a week before that actual game,” Hooper said.

“There was a draw here and then fell short in Auckland a week after but that's why it's really hard to get the formula because there's contradicting preparations every time that have given us different results.

“That'd be ideal for sure (having more Australian teams in the finals).

“High pressure, guys getting used to that and comfortable with their performances.

“If they're probably in those games, then a lot of the individuals are playing personally really good rugby and that would be a great outcome.”

The Wallabies play the All Blacks in Sydney on August 18 to open the Bledisloe Cup, in an historic double header with the Wallaroos, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.