Japanese "preseason" has Wallabies fresh for Wales: Hooper

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A mini Japanese preseason has given the Wallabies a newfound energy for their Spring Tour Tests after a long season, captain Michael Hooper says.

Australia have played 10 Tests this year ahead of the European trip,while Wales has played just one Test since June but have had a different lead-in to the game this year.

The Wallabies spent an extra week in Japan to train,after the third Bledisloe, which itself was played a week later than usual.

Hooper said the slightly different schedule had refreshed the squad, something that will come in handy against a Wales side that has pushed Australia to the edge in recent encounters.

“It's been a different month for us because we came off that Argentina game, we have two weekends off, play up in Tokyo, weekend off, come up here,” he said.

“So, we haven't played a huge amount of rugby and within those weeks you're able to do a bit of conditioning and not conditioning that really bogs you down - freshens you up, you're able to have some sessions off but then work a bit harder in other sessions.

“I think we've been managed really well so there should be no excuse there as far as back end of the year feeling fatigue.”

Jack Dempsey and Samu Kerevi’s returns to the starting team only enhance that fresh feeling, with Dempsey particularly desperate to make an impact.

“He's a really explosive player and you probably understand with the frustrations he's had throughout the year, he's hungry,” Hooper said of Dempsey.

“He's hungry to make a difference within this team, so intent's such a massive thing at this level and he's got that in spades.

“I'm excited to play with him tomorrow personally because I really like how he plays and then what he can add to the team and just being happy for him to be out there after his struggle back this year.”

Hooper back in Tolu Latu to step up under the heat of his second Test start, dismissing any concerns over his discipline.

Latu has given away yellow cards in the past two Tests but Hooper said there was no reason that would become a trend.

‘I've played with Tolu for years now and you sometimes have those run-ins where things go back-to-back like that,” he said.

“I'm fully confident in Tolu and the rest of the team is too.

“You've seen some of the quality that he's put out on the park, not only this year but in years gone by and at times where he's been called in late, things like that, so he's got a really good head on his shoulders and over the years, he's shown he can play some great performances.”

The Wallabies take on Wales in Cardiff on Saturday November 10, kicking off at 5:20pm local, Sunday 4:20am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport Channel 513 and SBS.