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Why Eddie Jones might not start Michael Hooper against Springboks

By Finn Morton
Michael Hooper at Wallabies media day. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia

Test veteran Michael Hooper may not be called on by coach Eddie Jones to start in the No. 7 jersey against the Springboks next month according to another former Wallabies captain.

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Former Australian skipper James Horwill expects Eddie Jones to select a “big jumping seven” to face the reigning world champions in Pretoria.

Horwill also believes that selectors will name Stade Toulousain lock Richie Arnold for his debut in Wallaby gold, as Australia look to combat the physicality of the South African team.

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Arnold, who is the twin brother of Wallaby Rory Arnold, has been sensational for the French powerhouse in both domestic and European competitions this season.

The 32-year-old started all seven matches in the Champions Cup and also played a key role in Toulouse’s road to Top 14 glory.

Toulouse beat European champions La Rochelle in a thrilling final last week, which saw Arnold line up against another potential Wallabies lock in Will Skelton.

“Richie – we need to see what he can do at Test level,” Horwill said on Stan Sport’s Rugby Heaven.

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“He’s obviously been playing really well for Toulouse. He was excellent against Will Skelton’s La Rochelle on the weekend and he’s been great, you talk to anyone over there, he’s been a big part of their success. But does that transfer to Test rugby?

“We all know it’s different, particularly the northern hemisphere rugby, is different to what is going to go on in the Rugby Championship.

“I think Eddie’s got to find out and he’s only got about four games to do it. I’m expecting those two to get selected, Will and Richie, against South Africa.”

When Michael Hooper eventually decides to hang up the boots, the former Wallabies captain will go down in history as one of the greatest opensides in the history of Australian rugby.

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Hooper has faced relentless criticism throughout his storied career, but has overcome every test with flying colours.

Some rugby fans believe the Test centurion is too small for international rugby, and while Hooper has proved that opinion wrong time and time again, coach Eddie Jones may look in another direction next month.

“I think Eddie might go a big jumping seven as well,” Horwill added.

“He’ll go that South Africa, French method of two backrowers on the side that are genuine jumping options. Your Pete Samu’s, Tom Hooper’s a smokey that you could throw in there.

“Maybe Lukhan (Salakaia-Loto) comes into that mix as well. He’s been playing a lot of six for Northampton, he’s a big body… I probably would, just purely for the physicality that he brings to the game against South Africa.”

The Wallabies will officially kick start their era under coach Eddie Jones in Pretoria next month when they take on defending Rugby World Cup champions South Africa.

Australia will then return home to take on Los Pumas in Sydney, before facing the All Blacks in the first of two Bledisloe Cup Tests.

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1 Comment
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Euan 385 days ago

He may not play him at all. Not dirty enough for the forward pack Eddie is brewing up.

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