Wallabies must improve winning formula: Hooper

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies face a tricky balance heading into the second Test against Ireland, with a chance to clinch the series in Melbourne after an opening win.

Week two in a three-Test block is a difficult proposition, with the first-week winners needing to ward off complacency and the added fire of a wounded opponent or one keen for vengeance.

It's a week in which the Wallabies have hit roadblocks in the past two years, both in a series and as a one-off Tests.

In 2016, they lost to England in a dour game that Hooper said felt like things ‘collapsed’ for the Wallabies, and last season, it was the second Test where Scotland shocked them in Sydney.

The balance of keeping a winning formula going and ensuring Ireland doesn’t close the gap and more in the space of seven days is critical for the Wallabies, captain Michael Hooper said.

“If you're doing the same thing, you've got to raise the bar on how you're doing it,” he said.

“If we're going to kick, if we're going to run, it's about doing it, the attention to detail being even better and the urgency being a level better than it was last week, because they're going to expect it.

“Everyone's going to be 30 cm, a metre closer to the ball because they're assuming it's going to happen, and (we're) under no illusion these guys (Ireland) are a top team and the players within their team are fantastic.

“You've got to go up a level and not forget about the small things.”

Hooper said there was plenty of improvement left in the team for the second Test, with a lineout a particular focus after the first Test.

Brandon Paenga-Amosa will have a chance to prove himself for a second week in a row. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyWith no genuine jumper in the backrow, and a debutant hooker in Brandon Paenga-Amosa, the set piece was patchy, and Hooper said they had worked plenty on it in Melbourne.

“A good amount, like a solid amount of time without getting bogged down in it,” he said.

“You've got to - it's such a huge area of the game. We weren't happy with - we think we can get better in the scrum, and we definitely can get better in the lineout just with our sharpness,” he said.

“A couple of things there, the rust and new things being added that probably didn't work to how we (would've) liked to launch our attack last week.

“So, we spent a good amount of time without getting too bogged down in, not wasting time, but forgetting about the other things.”

The Wallabies relied on kicks aplenty in Brisbane and with dreary weather, and even hail, predicted for Melbourne that might be a play again, but there is still the potential for the Wallabies to unleash some more running rugby in the pack, including letting no. 8 Caleb Timu off the lash a bit more.

“He's such a threat with ball in hand and probably our back five, talking about from four to eight probably didn't carry the ball as much as we would have liked, however we were able to explore some of the wide channels and get to the guys who are really dangerous,” Hooper said

“It was Caleb's debut game so he was getting a feel for it.

“Expecting him to understand the pace tomorrow and come out without those pre-game nerves to get his and on the ball because he's such a threat, seeing so much quality from him and he's taken to it really well.”

The Wallabies take on Ireland in the second June Test on Saturday June 16, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.