Bring on the Bledisloe: Hooper and the Wallabies ready for All Blacks

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Michael Hooper is confident he can make a difference to the Wallabies after nearly two months out with injury.

Hooper injured his hamstring in the third June Test against Ireland, missing the rest of the Super Rugby season including the Waratahs’ run to a semi-final.

The Wallabies had no reservations with bringing the skipper straight back into the starting side for the Bledisloe.

Returning from injury is an unfamiliar place for Hooper and he hedged his bets when asked how confident he felt in the muscle.

“I'll tell you after the game tomorrow,” he said.

“It's one of those things - you tick all the boxes, you get to a point, I'm sitting here today feeling great about what I can do and I think I can make a difference in the game.”

Hooper had barely missed a minute of rugby in the past five years before this injury and said he hoped to make it through the full 80 in his return.

“I'm going to come out guns blazing,” he said.

“We'll see how that goes tomorrow night. The best minutes to be on the field are the back end of the game so yes I'd love to be there.

“However, whatever is best for the team and if we can get a really good substitution there in myself or someone else then that'll be made.”

Hooper’s fitness aside, the Wallabies openside was confident his team felt ready for the challenge facing them on Saturday night.

It’s not the first time that the Wallabies have said they were ready heading into a Sydney Bledisloe and the past two years things have turned sour pretty quickly with 42-8 and 54-34 losses.

Hooper said they couldn’t dwell on the past, positive or negative, ahead of the opener.

“Plenty's made about the history, plenty's made about the time but all we can speak for is this group here right now,” he said.

“And right now, we're sitting here on a Friday and we've been happy with our prep.

“We've been happy with what the players have been putting in during the week and they're different players to who were here last year.

“Different group, different stage in this group's development from last year, so everything's pointing towards tomorrow.”

Nothing will come easy for the Wallabies against the All Blacks but Hooper said they would be embracing that.

“It's going to be hard and that's why different teams, different players have struggled over the course of how ever many years,” he said.

“It is going to be hard and we like it that way, we like that we get the first Test in Sydney.

“It's always fun to come out here and it's going to be a great day for rugby particularly in Sydney tomorrow and for Australia as well with us playing the All Blacks, it's always good. So, bring it on.”

The Wallabies host the All Blacks in the first Bledisoe on Saturday August 18, kicking off at 7.45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO, with the Wallaroos taking on the Black Ferns from 5:15pm AEST as well. Buy tickets here.