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Injured Wallaby Michael Hooper on his chances of playing in Bledisloe I

By Finn Morton
Michael Hooper of the Wallabies looks on during The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies at Eden Park on August 14, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

After missing the Wallabies’ thrilling Test against Los Pumas with a calf injury, Australian co-captain Michael Hooper has revealed whether he’s likely to play against the All Blacks later this month.

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For Wallabies fans, it’s good news.

Hooper, who has played 126 Test matches, picked up the calf injury in the lead-up to the Wallabies’ first match of the year on Australian soil.

It was a cruel blow for coach Eddie Jones and the Wallabies, who were coming off a disastrous loss to South Africa in Pretoria. The Australians were desperate to bounce back.

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Rising star Fraser McReight started in the No. 7 jersey against Los Pumas, and the Queenslander didn’t look out of place after entering the fray of international rugby for the first time in 2023.

But Hooper brings something else to the table. The Wallabies fell to their second consecutive loss, and they would’ve benefited from the leadership of the great flanker.

With four John Eales Medals to his name – which is the award given to Australia’s best player at the end of the year – there’s no denying that Hooper is a modern-day great.

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Rugby fans have doubted the veteran throughout his entire career, but it’s hard to argue with the facts. Hooper’s experience is invaluable, and his poise under pressure is another admirable quality.

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The Wallabies have an 0-2 record under new coach Eddie Jones, and have just three more Tests to play before opening their World Cup campaign against Georgia. They need to turn things around.

In a major boost for the Australians, Hooper has revealed that he “should be right” to play when the Wallabies take on rivals the All Blacks in the opening Bledisloe Cup clash at the MCG.

“Injury is good, I should be right for the next game,” Hooper said on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby.

“Give us another two weeks and yeah, should be in. Simple as that.

“Apparently in the best area to do a calf… I’ve learned a lot about calves the last week or so.”

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For the second week in a row, the Wallabies shot out of the blocks at a red-hot pace against Argentina at Sydney’s CommBank Stadium.

Centre Len Ikitau scored an early try, but left the field shortly after with a devastating injury. This was the first of two major turning points.

Following a backline reshuffle, which saw replacement Carter Gordon come at inside centre, the Wallabies lost their way a bit.

But then, following a yellow card to towering lock Richie Arnold, Los Pumas began to assert themselves. Just after the break, captain Julian Montoya scored to give the visitors the lead.

Leading late in the contest, and looking to ice the game too, Argentina had the ball deep inside Australia’s 22. But winger Mark Nawaqanitawase sent the home crowd into a frenzy as he picked off a pass, and ran coast-to-coast for the go-ahead try.

But the Wallabies’ lead was short-lived.

About three minutes later, backrower Juan Martin Gonzalez scored the match-winning try – giving Argentina a 21-24 win following the successful conversion.

That was the final play of the game.

“You’re wishing out there, aren’t you? That’s where you can have (an) influence on the game,” Hooper added. “You’re wishing you’re out there.

“The only positive is you don’t wake up sore Sunday morning, but other than that you feel every bit of the s*** that everyone feels.

“It was a tough one.

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“I think frustration for the most part, frustration that the way they got into those areas was largely off our mistakes or our ill-discipline.

“That’s been a reoccurring theme of the team that we’ve got to fix if we want to go where we want to go as a team.

“To have that issue highlighted right at the death there after going ahead was frustrating.”

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in just over one week’s time. Then, the Australians will travel across the ditch to Dunedin for the reverse fixture.

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Comments

1 Comment
j
john 358 days ago

"Rugby fans have doubted the veteran throughout his entire career, but it’s hard to argue with the facts. Hooper’s experience is invaluable, and his poise under pressure is another admirable quality."

That must be why the Wallabies keep winning so much under Hooper.....

Give me a break.

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