Wallabies must be better for longer: Hooper

International
by Sam Phillips

For Michael Hooper and the Wallabies the formula to flourishing in Yokohama is quite simple.

Be better for longer.

One would be hard pressed to better surmise the situation in four words.

The two clashes between these teams so far this year have played out in near on identical fashion.

After going with the All Blacks for 40 minutes the Wallabies floundered when the world champions turned the heat up.

Finding a way to go with the world's best for 80 minutes, rather than 40, holds the key to a win which would shock the rugby world.

That is, of course, easier said than done but Hooper believes his side have identified how to walk that talk.

"The periods in between play... there’s a lot of good individual ball players out there, there’s a lot of good people who can run the ball, tackle well," Hooper said in Yokohama on Friday.

Michael Hooper has his eyes on a prized scalp. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"It’s the periods in between those moments when you’re getting set to allow our team to show its system, allow our team to play the shape it can and ultimately let the individuals do the work, finish the job.

"They’re the key moments and that’s something that the top teams have been doing very for quite a while now and the team we’re playing tomorrow has clearly been the best at it for a while.

"It’s those moments in between, it’s working to put yourself in position before the opposition."

Hooper's opposition have made a point of eliminating any whiff of complacency amongst their troops this week.

Falling short of a Bledisloe clean sweep this time last year clearly stung coach Steve Hansen even if the cup itself was safely secure in the vast NZRU trophy cabinet.

Hansen is the master of motivating a team which amasses wins for fun but Hooper's side seems to lack that drive at times.

Not this week.

"There’s always a heap of motivation playing for your country, there really is, it’s a shame that we’re not playing for some silverware tomorrow or it’s not back in Australia but that’s not the case," he said.

"We’re out there tomorrow to build as a team. It’s been a narrow focus for us this week and we get our opportunity to play the number one team in the world.

"We’re competitive blokes, we’re in a high performance environment, you want to be doing that, you want to be in these situations, you want to be out there when the lights are on.


"There’s so many different areas of motivation.

"There’s a lot of stuff you could say, we’ve got a couple of things we’ve been working on throughout the week and messages that we’ve driving that will put us in a very good position."

Those messages, internally, have been all about building the team's identity.

Coach Michael Cheika wants his side to stand for something and they can start that process by standing up in Yokohama.

That process starts by being better for longer.

"We need to defend better for longer and attack better for longer," Hooper said.

"Both games (in Auckland and Sydney), we put in some really good minutes there.

"The first one particularly, 55 minutes into the game we’re in the lead so that’s closing down to the point of the game when you’re almost getting a W next to the scorecard, but obviously that’s not enough.

"That’s what it comes down to for us, doing our systems, doing our shapes for longer, putting the opposition under pressure, derailing what they have in plan and in store for us for longer in this game tomorrow.

"We’ll see how it goes."

The Wallabies face the All Blacks in Yokohama on Saturday, kicking off at 5pm AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and RUGBY.com.au radio.