Hooper backs plans to rest Test players in Super Rugby

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper says a proposed plan to manage Australia’s top players through Super Rugby in 2019 would be a good thing for rugby.

Australia has never had any formal arrangements with Super Rugby clubs when it comes to resting Test players but it has been a topic of discussion in recent seasons.

With a World Cup around the corner, an informal agreement has been made between the Wallabies and four Super Rugby clubs to rest players.

No specifics have been laid down but the strategy is expected to be nutted out in coming months.

Many of the top rugby nations have begun resting their players more often - New Zealand mandated all of its Test players take two Super Rugby matches off before their June Series.

Ireland are also stringent when it comes to their top players, with names like Johnny Sexton playing limited minutes during the season.

While the talks are still relatively early, Hooper said he felt it would be a good move for the Wallabies and the Super Rugby teams.

“We won't know what that looks like until maybe end of next month, or start of next year, when we have a real good look at the schedule but I think it's a good thing for players and I think it's a good thing for clubs as well because it's knowledge that you can really plan out your year as a player and a club,” he said.

“With planning and if we do rest players, then you've got a chance to see some depth and build depth within your squad at a club level, which I think's hugely important as well, rather than relying on the same guys every week.

“I think you see in some Super Rugby games this year when someone has gone out with injury or maybe rested there that someone eels comes in and the weight's given to him and he takes it and runs with it.

“I think it's a great showing for our program and confidence within our programs at Super Rugby level as well that we're able to do that and trending in the right direction.”

Formalising an agreement of some sort is important for the Wallabies, who found themselves in conflict with the Brumbies this year when they requested that Test players Allan Alaalatoa, Scott Sio and David Pocock be rested from a match six days out from their June Series opener.

The three ultimately played in the match, reinforcing the need for some kind of arrangement in future.

Player load management is just one thing the Wallabies will be looking to refine in 2019, after a mixed 2018 year.

It’s been a tumultuous year for the side but Hooper said there was a determination to ensure they learned from the challenges of this season.

“For me, it's a different type of season so you learn a hell of a lot but...I love playing for this country and so do the rest of the team,” he said.

“So, when we remind each other of that we're good to go. You shake off that disappointment from the week before and go, "Look we've got another opportunity this week we've got to move on," and we've got a bunch, average age of our pack's 25, bit older now with Swoop coming back in our backline.

“There's a heap of hunger here and what these losses and the disappointment does, you want to turn that around and that's everyone across the board is wanting to turn that around .

“The key for us and the challenge for us is always wiping that disappointment away and moving our focus of what can we take from that to the next week.,

“While that is, for a lot of our guys being new, is different and new to us, it's going to put us in good stead going forward."

Australia takes on Italy in Padova on Saturday November 17, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 1am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sports Channel 515 and SBS.