Pocock to tackle improving flanker Hooper
From master and student to rival on rival, things get interesting when leading openside flanker David Pocock and his Wallabies understudy Michael Hooper clash in the Super Rugby this weekend.
The Brumbies, who lead the Australian conference by five points, travel to Perth to meet Western Force on Saturday, in the first week back after the international break.
For Hooper, it’s a chance to prove what he’s learnt after three weeks working alongside Pocock – both Wallabies and Force captain – in the Australian squad.
“He was really helpful for me in that set-up and surroundings and he took me in straight away and showed me the ropes,” the 20-year-old said on Monday, when he rejoined his Brumbies teammates.
“So yeah, it will be odd playing him this week considering we only broke up yesterday.”
Hooper has been a revelation for the Brumbies this season, and was duly rewarded with a Wallabies cap, playing his first minutes at the tail-end of Australia’s 9-6 loss to Scotland on June 5 in Newcastle.
He was a solid contributor during the first Test against Wales – and although a forgettable final five minutes in the second may have cost him a run in the third, Hooper said the opportunity had been rewarding.
The Force are in 13th spot on the Super ladder and are last of the Australia teams, are expected to lift as they farewell lock Nathan Sharpe in his last game at nib Stadium.
Sharpe has postponed his retirement to help the Wallabies during the Rugby Championship, but it will be his last game in front of a home crowd.
Those factors have Brumbies coach Jake White wary of an ambush, despite having notched the points against the Force 19-17 in their opening round battle in February.
“(Our returned Wallabies) bring energy back … but there’s a mass amount of energy that (the Force) get back as well,” he said.
Bringing his squad together for the first time since the break on Monday, White said only time will tell how the international window will affect the Brumbies’ momentum, with three games left to play.
White will have some tweaking of his usual line-up to do, with winger Joe Tomane remaining sidelined with an ankle injury and also questions over No.8 Fotu Auelua, who hurt his hamstring playing in Canberra’s local competition.© AAP 2013
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