Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper potentially put his captaincy credentials on the line when he turned down an easy three points during the last stages of his side’s win over Ireland on Saturday night.
With just 10 minutes left to play and his side leading Ireland by the slim margin of two points, the Wallabies were awarded a penalty well within range for kicker Bernard Foley.
Kicking the penalty would have ensured a 14-9 margin and forced Ireland to win the ball back and try to march downfield for a try.
Hooper instead opted to go for the kill.
David Pocock eventually crossed for what was the match-sealing try as the Wallabies triumphed 18-9, snapping the reigning Six Nations champion and world No. 2 Ireland’s 15-month unbeaten reign.
Hooper’s decision to go for the five-pointer was nothing short of ballsy.
“That was almost the name of the call, the boss came up with it,” Hooper said at the post-match press conference.
“I think you guys [Wallaby coaching staff] were calling for that up top, since speaking to them after the game.
“We backed ourselves to do a job there and thought it would change the picture.
“If we throw something at them at this game, early on, it might change how they (Ireland) react in later games.
“We worked on it, it paid off a couple of phases later than we probably would have liked, but we did the job and scored about 10 phases later.”
Hooper’s back-row partner David Pocock shone in his return at blindside flanker, notching 15 tackles, winning three turnovers and scoring the match-winner while new teammate Pete Samu made an impressive international debut from the bench.
“Pete Samu in his debut came on and made a difference straight away, took to it really well,” Hooper said.
“I’ve played with Dave a lot now and it was no surprise to me, some of the stuff he was doing tonight.
“We can only get better from here.”
The series resumes in Melbourne next weekend, where a win would lock up an impressive series win over the Irish.
In other news:
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