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‘We are up for it’: Michael Hooper echoes Eddie Jones’ warning for All Blacks

By Finn Morton
Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones poses with co-captains James Slipper and Michael Hooper during the Australian Wallabies Rugby Championship squad announcement at Sanctuary Cove on June 25, 2023 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Following the Wallabies’ tough 31-34 loss to Argentina in Sydney last weekend, coach Eddie Jones walked into the post-match press conference with a smile on his face.

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The legendary coach wasn’t happy with the result – of course he wasn’t, far from it in fact.

Jones, who replaced Dave Rennie in the role at the start of the year, was just incredibly confident that the Wallabies could turn their fortunes around ahead of this year’s World Cup.

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It all starts with the All Blacks.

Mid-way through the press conference, Jones throw a cheeky jab at the New Zealanders ahead of the opening Bledisloe Cup Test in Melbourne later this month.

“If I was the All Blacks, I’d look out,” Jones told reporters at CommBank Stadium.

Jones coached the Wallabies to their last Bledisloe Cup series triumph back in 2001, and again when they retained the trophy a year later. While the odds appear to be stacked firmly against the current group, he’s ready for Australia to shock the rugby world.

But that’s still over a week away. After the opening two rounds of The Rugby Championship, all four SANZAAR nations have a bye week.

The week off should give Wallabies co-captain Michael Hooper enough time to recover from an injured calf which ruled the veteran out of the Pumas Test.

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Hooper agreed with the sentiment of coach Jones’ post-match warming to the All Blacks, saying that winning and losing is a matter of “small adjustments.”

“We are up for it,” Hooper said on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby. “We know we need to improve but these aren’t crazy margins, it’s Test match rugby.. it is little margins that make a big difference.

“That first game in Pretoria and now, definitely not the results we want or think we’re capable of but we make some small adjustments, we’re a team that’s only been together – to make an excuse, you hate making excuses but I will – a short amount of time.

“We start putting more meat on the bone, it’s going to start getting better and get better quick.

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“The challenge for us is to really maintain that belief and confidence and Eddie is a pro at driving that belief and keeping us on track with that.

“In terms of New Zealand, they’re going to be on regardless, they don’t need any fuel to fire.”

The Wallabies and All Blacks are coming off two very different starts to The Rugby Championship.

New Zealand opened their account with a comfortable win over Argentina in Mendoza, before hosting world champions South Africa in Auckland.

The All Blacks, especially in the first quarter of the Test, looked like a team possessed. Led by the likes of Will Jordan and Shannon Frizell, the hosts raced out to an early lead.

Eventually, the Springboks beast was slain 35-20 at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.

“They’re smart, hey? They are just so deliberate with how they want to play on the field,” Hooper added, speaking about the All Blacks.

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“I missed the first half and I’ll get to that, but I got to watch the second half on my tiny, little phone… they absorb pressure and absorb pressure, and South Africa looked like they were coming back and starting to get their traditional game going.

“But the ability of New Zealand to get a turnover somehow and play down and get the ball down to the other end, apply pressure, make South Africa give away a penalty and then they’re in the corner, it was super impressive.

“It’s such an exciting challenge for us.”

The Wallabies take on fierce rivals New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29. That is the first of two Bledisloe Cup Tests.

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6 Comments
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Northandsouth 362 days ago

"Jones coached the Wallabies to their last Bledisloe Cup series triumph back in 2001, and again when they retained the trophy a year later." ... and after that he lost the Bledisloe 2003-05 for an overall record of 1-1-3, which I'll definitely mention because I wouldn't want to misrepresent the facts to support a conclusion that doesn't stand up to a basic balanced analysis.

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ColinK 364 days ago

If Australia really wanted to ambush the men in black they would shut up and do it on the field. Instead they talk it up and remove any chance of complacency in the mighty Abs.
Stupid stuff. It could be a hard night out in Melbourne for the wallabies. We shall see though as they have stepped up before, I actually hope they do as I think a weak Oz team has weakened the Abs in recent years. But you would say its odds on to be a smashing.

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Lewis 365 days ago

Said every aussie ever, before every bledisloe ever. Will believe it when i see it😆

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AIDAN 365 days ago

I wonder if James Slipper might hang up his boots? Because after the all blacks game James slipper Becomes 2nd most capped Australian player of all time and he has been in 3 RWCs, but if he stays it will be nice for the Brumbies but demanding on his own body, so really important decision for him, but like who am I to say.

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john 365 days ago

If Hooper plays and is captain or co captain, we have little to no chance.

Hooper is Australia's worst captain ever.

J
Jmann 365 days ago

Wayne Barnes is the referee. So a fair but pedantic game. Rucks will be slower with more hands allowed and the scrums will be anyone's guess. Plus side... forward passes will be all over the show

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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