Hooper buoyed by Wallabies' upside

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Hold the ball more, reduce penalties, score tries.

It seems like a simple strategy, and it’s exactly what the Wallabies need to do in Saturday’s series-deciding third June Test.

Ireland controlled the possession and territory for much of the first two Tests, but the Wallabies have still been able to outscore them with five tries to two.

Those stats give captain Michael Hooper optimism that it’s just the small things that need to change for Australia in the final match.

“Yeah (there’s), a lot of upside in that we can score points, even right when the game is on the line we are able to put some nice attacking phases together,” he said.

“We looked at that and thought that was really nice.

“In the negative of allowing them to control so much possession, you think if we changed a couple of things here we can get it back.

“We weren't that far off what we needed to do.

“Ireland put together a good game and squeezed us really nicely with how they made us give away penalties.”

Coach Michael Cheika has stressed the need for his side to reduce its penalty count, a tally that has hurt them against Ireland, and Hooper said he felt an attitude change would help that in Saturday’s series-deciding Test.

“It was tough to narrow it down to one thing last week,” he said.

“There were penalties for hitting guys off the ball, ruck stuff and some set-piece stuff as well.

“It is attention to detail, and an intent thing. We will take those out of the game. We didn't have as many in the first because our intent was a bit better.

“A mindset change will allow you to be more disciplined and put you in the right positions on the field.”

The Wallabies set the tone physically in Brisbane, but it was Ireland who found the edge in Melbourne and Hooper said regaining that control would be pivotal in Sydney.

“Both very physical, but probably on whose terms was probably the difference,” he said.

“Why they were different - I think our trust and our system of the individual players on the field was much stronger and our ability to know who we had in each others' line and go off and do that was quite good in the first game, so it was more physicality on our terms.

“Then you flip that to the second game and I thought Ireland took it to us.

“Their ball retention was great and tested us on the fold, tested us back on the negative side and carried over the gain line a bit more.

“We weren't able to get guys like David on the ball and Adam doing big shots and things like that and getting our guys out the back.

“We've had two games now, both teams (have felt) each other out.

“I'm sure that they've cooked up a few things to try and catch us off guard tomorrow as we have too.”

Allianz Stadium is on track for a possible record crowd in Saturday’s Test, in what will be the last Wallabies match at the venue before it is knocked down in 2019.

The Wallabies take on Ireland in the third June Test at Allianz Stadium on Saturday June 23, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.