Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper in line for early Super Rugby return from Japan
Winless in Super Rugby AU and still reeling from leaking 64 points in their Trans-Tasman tournament opener against the Hurricanes last Friday night, the Waratahs confessed to some serious squirming during the video review.
“It wasn’t pretty,” lock Hugh Sinclair said on Monday.
“A few too many soft one-on-ones just when they went straight through our midfield and all of a sudden it’s a try.
“That’s just not good enough at Super Rugby level.
“That’s third, fourth-grade level.”
Defence coach Jason Gilmore, who harbours ambitions to take over the head role, is demanding Waratahs players put their bodies on the line when they confront the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.
“I’d definitely say there’s a few boys there that’d be licking their wounds that have got to have a bit more accountability to their contact skills,” Gilmore said.
“It’s not like if you make an error, it’s not going to cost you. It’s not like you can hide in defence.
“We can’t afford that week to week in this competition. The Kiwi strengths are out on the edges so the boys are going to have to aim up there.”
Hooper has been hugely missed since while on a sabbatical in Japan, with Gilmore noting that the champion flanker and fellow Wallabies forward Ned Hanigan “really held the forte well in defence” for the Tahs.
With his Toyota Verblitz side eliminated from the Japanese Top League semi-finals at the weekend, Hooper is now serving his 14-day quarantine period.
Supremely fit, he could conceivably be available for the Waratahs’ last two Trans-Tasman round games against the Highlanders and Chiefs.
“We’ll just see how he goes through quarantine because obviously he’ll have been pretty idle for a fortnight there,” Gilmore said.
“So we certainly don’t want to rush him back where he gets a soft tissue injury or something like that.”
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