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Wallabies gunning for three wins on the trot, declares two-try Hooper

The openside played a huge role in humbling Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Australia's Michael Hooper runs in their second try of the game.
Australia's Michael Hooper runs in their second try of the game.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

MICHAEL HOOPER’S ‘OLD GIRL’ is flying back to Australia with a crystal cut-glass rugby ball that will make a nice nice mantlepiece feature for many a year.

The Wallaby flanker, who was named man-of-the-match on Saturday, made his international debut in less than auspicious circumstances [sub for a 9-6 home defeat to Scotland]. He forced his way into the reckoning for the 2012 Rugby Championship. Twelve of Hooper’s 26 caps have been against New Zealand, South Africa and the Lions so it is no surprise that he has not experienced three Test match wins in a row.

Australia were on an ‘upward curve’ declared Ireland coach Joe Schmidt before witnessing his side lose 32-15 on Saturday. The rise continues and the Wallabies, despite suspending six of their own, are targeting three-in-a-row against Scotland this weekend.

“It has been a tough year,” Hooper admitted. “There’s been a lot of pressure on with the Lions series and then carrying on into the Rugby Championship. We struggled there, with not many wins. This is our first back-to-back wins of the season. It’s great for us and we want three-in-a-row now.”

He added: “Rugby is [a roller coaster]. You’ve got amazing highs and lows. You win one week and then you lose the next.You’re travelling around a lot, so it’s a tough situation. But it’s the great thing about rugby, you’ve got these great challenges in different countries.”

Hooper scored his first and second international tries at the weekend but took more credit from the second [a rolling maul] than his first, which came courtesy of a super Scott Fardy offload. His coach, Ewen McKenzie, stated that Australia had done their homework on the Irish pack. Hooper backed up those comments.

We knew it was going to be won up front, so we put a lot of emphasis on that. The Irish forwards, like Sean O’Brien and Rory Best, are very good at slowing the ball down, so we had a major emphasis on being able to generate quick ball through our carries. I think that benefited us a lot.”

imageHooper gets his man-of-the-match award from Rory Sheridan. INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Hooper and McKenzie will hope to return home in early December on a four-game winning streak. If they continue to ride the curve upwards, the challenge is to topple New Zealand. The Aussies are winless against the world champions for over two years.

“We get to play against them a lot,” Hooper said, ”which is a luxury thing down there. I’d like to play them as much as we could, you want to knock off the best teams. They’re clinical, they get into your 22 and usually get some points. Their finishing is incredible, every little opportunity they get is taken. That’s what other teams are not capable of doing to the same level as they are. If you can get them off your game, which is tough to do.

We were growing when we played them earlier in the year, they beat us in two games straight up. That’s our goal, we want to take these guys down. These games [November tests] are great for practising and getting our systems in place. Everyone wants to be number one.”

Next up for New Zealand are Ireland at Lansdowne Road. If we beat them, for the first time in 28 attempts, we must be sure to contact Hooper with some tips.

Like rugby? Follow TheScore.ie’s dedicated Twitter account @rugby_ie >

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Patrick McCarry

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