Wallabies dishing up 'menu' of options for Ireland

International
by Sam Phillips

A collaborative approach to plotting the downfall of Ireland holds the key to the Wallabies' success in the first June Test, according to captain Michael Hooper.

Coach Michael Cheika and his staff have presented the playing group with a "menu" of attacking options ahead of the first Test, allowing the leaders within the squad to take an autonomous approach into the pivotal clash.

"To keep it simple, the coaches don't want to just say, 'This is how we are going to play'," Hooper said after Friday's captain's run.

"They want players to buy in so they are sitting down with the game managers, the lineout callers and saying, 'This is what we can do - what do you like in this, say, menu, (you could) call it'.

"Working together coming up against Ireland, what's gonna work for us.

"It's a real collaborative venture, almost, to try and put together the best play sheet for what we think is coming up tomorrow, rather than it being a dictatorship.Michael Hooper and the Wallabies are taking a collaborative approach into the first Test. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Credit to the coaches in allowing the players to do it and it's going to be a good test tomorrow night to see how we've taken to that challenge."

That approach may have a run first tinge to it, as Hooper pointed to the firepower the team possesses when asked about managing the pace of play.

"We’d be silly not to run the ball with some of the strike power we’ve got," he said.

"We’ve got a really fit team, forwards who want to work and can get over the ad line with a mobile back row.

"We’ve seen through Super Rugby some of the damage that the backs can do and some of the form our playmakers are in.

"We’ve got to be smart with how we do it.

"This stuff does need a little bit of a tweak and how we relieve pressure in these games because we know the Irish are good, they build pressure.Hooper is relishing the thought of unleashing the Australian backline. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"We saw what they did to some of the teams in the Six Nations, how they can put up a kick anywhere on the field and just keep putting pressure on - how we deal with that is critical."

Allowing Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and the rest of the backline to unleash will rely on the work of Hooper and David Pocock at the breakdown.

Along with debutant Caleb Timu, Hooper said the back row understood the task at hand.

"We know they’re big strong guys," he said.

"When we’ve played them over there they like to hold players up and they’re good at it.

"We’ve got to be smart around how we deal with that.

"Working into position, getting forward and showing a bit of deception with allow them to hopefully not do that be successful there."David Pocock is a welcome addition to the Wallabies back. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyIreland's attacking ruck is notoriously tough to crack but Hooper backed Pocock to make his mark in the area which he thrives best.

"As far as his on-field stuff, it speaks for itself in how he can change a game and get a turnover to change momentum," Hooper said.

"And then the experience on the field allows the game managers and myself to lean on someone for a good voice there to get the team on the right path."

Mix all of these elements together and the Wallabies will be well on their way to their first win of the year, a result which cannot be underestimated.

"It's great for momentum, it's great for confidence to know that you can do it and it doesn't put you up against a decider straight away," Hooper said.

"It would be lovely to win the first one, of course, and try things out.

"We're keen to get off to a good start tomorrow and really just do the stuff we talk about and the stuff we say a lot.

"We want to be true to our mantra and how we want to play the game and how we want to be viewed by our fans and that's playing a good, enjoyable, strong game of rugby."

The Wallabies take on Ireland in a three-Test series kicking off at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday June 9, at 8:05pm AEST. Buy tickets here.