Hooper to halfback for Wallabies? What, the flanker?

Will Knight Columnist

By Will Knight, Will Knight is a Roar Expert

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    Warning: the following contains a theory that some conservative rah-rah fans may find disturbing.

    We’ve all got at least one mate who talks so much rubbish, you often feel compelled to signal for the team doctor to come over and give them a concussion test. Their natural habitat is the pub. They get more brazen as the beer flows.

    I’m probably one of them – I’ve got a catalogue of easy-to-ridicule, farcical, left-field propositions that have been thrown around like legitimate and sane ideas worth further discussion. You know, more madhouse than MENSA. Like a drunken darts player.

    Well, the next theory came from someone who normally makes a lot of sense. So as ridiculous as it sounded at first, I thought it was worth hearing him out. And it wasn’t a six-beers-deep hypothesis, but one made with no excuse for incoherence.

    “Michael Hooper doesn’t win enough turnover ball or slow the ball down for the Wallabies – Michael Cheika should turn him into a halfback!” he proposed.

    Hooper is a freakish player. Few would dispute that. He’s tough, quick, skilful, fantastic in support, a brilliant defender, runs out the 80 minutes, and has great instincts. What about his covering tackle on Springboks centre Jan Serfontein on Saturday night? Class.

    He wins a fair bit of turnover ball for the Waratahs. But at international level, it’s fair to say – most noticeably against the top sides – he’s not as dominant at the breakdown.

    He rarely seems to pilfer nor slow the ball down consistently. He doesn’t have the effectiveness to rival Sam Cane, Jaco Kriel, Ardie Savea or Sam Warburton.

    Warburton’s inclusion at No.7 for the British and Irish Lions in the second Test against the All Blacks a few months ago was a significant factor in the tourists’ series fight back. Of course, Sonny Bill Williams got sent off, but the Welshman slowed a lot of ball down at the ruck, ensuring the Kiwis committed players to the breakdown that usually meant – with the Lions defending – they had fewer attackers to number up on.

    If you wrote out the job responsibilities for an openside flanker, being a pest at the breakdown would be near the top of the list.

    Even though he’s a very solid 101kg, Hooper maybe lacks a bit of size at Test level. It’s one of the few negatives you can level at the skipper, who as a 26-year-old is a seasoned Wallaby and been their best for a few seasons.

    Is it too far-fetched to turn him into a halfback? Realistically, there’s more chance of Twiggy Forrest being handed the No.9 jersey. Plus Will Genia, at 29, still has at least a few more years in him and is in top form.

    Will Genia Wallabies Springboks Rugby Union Test Championship 2016 Australia South Africa

    AAP Image/Dan Peled

    But it could be done.

    He’s got the pace and instincts. His defence around the ruck would be a huge asset. He’d be a rugged presence around the ruck to get his body over the ball if needed as that’s his natural habitat. He’d be handy sweeping as a cover defender, especially from set pieces.

    His short passing game in close during phase play might be a problem – Genia’s short-passing subtlety is top-notch – but Hooper would put his hand up for plenty of hard carries.

    Of course, his long passing and kicking would be the issue.

    But he’s extremely skilful, more so than the likes of Cane, Savea, Kriel and Warburton, so he could develop a decent long pass.

    And there are two reasons why he could probably get away with not kicking much: Cheika likes to keep the ball in hand and with Kurtley Beale back, he gives Bernard Foley a second kicking option – long and short.

    When David Pocock returns next year, does Cheika keep Pocock, a phenomenal pilferer at openside flanker, at No.8 to accommodate Hooper? It’s probable and they have proven they’re a formidable combination.

    Could Hooper become a No.9? Someone suggested he could be turned into a decent No.12 or No.13. It’s crazy.

    I suppose when the Wallabies are struggling, desperate theories ensue. But then again, perhaps a more abrasive halfback might be the way to go. Shake up the system. Revolution, man. Expand the mind.

    Will Knight
    Will Knight

    An AAP writer for more than a decade, Will Knight does his best to make sense of all things cricket, rugby union and rugby league, all while trying to have a laugh along the way. You can find him on Twitter @WKnightrider.

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    The Crowd Says (93)

    • Columnist

      September 13th 2017 @ 7:42am
      Nicholas Bishop said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Two words. Mauro Bergamasco.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 9:29am
        Corw said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        I looked those words up and found the following quote:

        However, any such mollifying overtures in the coach’s direction should be resisted as once he’d decided to give it a go the big Saffa will have seen Bergamasco playing nine in training and subsequently decided that the performances he witnessed there were OK to unleash on an international match. Which means he is either blind, mad, or actually believes an international scrum half should resemble a sexually frustrated chimp angrily throwing its own turds at a passing train. For any combination of those reasons, Mauro was given the nod to start at HQ.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 8:16pm
        mikado said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:16pm | ! Report

        Yup. One of the most embarrassing performances ever.

      • September 14th 2017 @ 11:01am
        Rebellion said | September 14th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

        Chieka would never turn Hooper into a halfback as it would block another nurtured,undeserving Tah in Nick Phipps.
        Hooper is a good player but selecting him at 7 is like asking a bricklayer to perform general surgery.
        Pocock and Gill are the best 7’s with daylight behind them.

    • September 13th 2017 @ 7:47am
      Armchair sportsfan said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Many years ago when I was playing rugby in a country comp in rural qld. I was a tough, nuggety little flanker….and on this given day, we only had 12 players show up on game night, so rather than forfeit, I was handed the halfback shirt.

      Of course I had the speed and fitness to get to every ruck, but then the problem’s started. I’m still mates with my fyhalf from that game, but he’s damn lucky he’s still alive with the hospital passes’s I threw him. After 20mins of nearly killing my outside half. I decided a change was due, and what then proceeded was he tightest scrumhalf’s game ever played. I pick and drove every ruck…..by this stage we’d had a few injuries, so we’re down to 9 men versus 15, so there really wasnt a backline to speak of anyway.

      Suffice to say we lost the game 74-5. But I did throw the last pass for our try, so that was something.

      All in all though, I don’t support the theory of a flanker being converted to a scrumhalf, based on my empirical evidence……

      • September 13th 2017 @ 6:16pm
        Adsa said | September 13th 2017 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

        One advantage Hooper may have over your experience Armchair is that he will (hopefully) always front up to a game with the full squad of 23 players.

        • September 14th 2017 @ 5:04am
          Armchair sportsfan said | September 14th 2017 @ 5:04am | ! Report

          That’s is true. Although the ARU are doing a good job at testing that assumption!

    • September 13th 2017 @ 8:09am
      David said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      Think the suggestion that Hooper should be a back has been thrown round a few times by various spectators now. I’ve got to admit that in my view, it’s something I agree with- I’ve never been especially worried when I’ve seen Hooper line up against England at flanker, as opposed to when I’ve seen the likes of McCaw, Pocock or Warburton/Tipuric do the same. At the same time, I recognise he’s a talented player and to not have him would be a waste. However, he’s 26- although I agree he would have made a much better back than he does a flanker, I’d also suggest that it’s too late to make that change unless he adapts remarkably quickly.

    • September 13th 2017 @ 8:21am
      Ro said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      I think they all should be playing in their rightful positions- wingers are wingers, fullbacks are fullbacks and so on… sure there are players that are useful utilities and exactly what the team needs but to have this strategy of players playing one role in Super Rugby and then with little preparation are thrown into another role in the Rugby Championship is bewildering for me. But I still admire the Wallabies and accept that others are far smarter than me.

    • September 13th 2017 @ 8:21am
      Blindfreddy said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      Bernie Larkham started life as a halfback for Wests in Canberra, then played full back and then a smart super coach put him into flyhalf (Jones?). I think player development starts at club level not at Wallaby level.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 8:45am
        Dontcallmeshirley said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        Ned Hanigan’s development is being handled in the Wallabies.

        • September 13th 2017 @ 9:26am
          Gary Grocott's said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

          And therein lies the problem for the Wallabies. Hannigan is being developed! How many All Blacks are being “developed”? None. They are fully developed before they are selected. They arrive in the AB team “good to go”. As for Hooper, I’ve said it many times, he has a heart as big as Phar Lap and should be the first picked player. However, he is not an international seven. It is crazy to consider him as scrum half but, in my opinion, it wouldn’t be crazy to play him at 13.

          • September 13th 2017 @ 1:35pm
            taylorman said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

            Not so sure thats the case. I think Barretts still being developed even now. Sure he does some fantastic things but hes still lacking as a consistent 10 and goalkicker.

            SBW’s been developing ever since he put the first jersey on.

            Savea has come through as sub and is still developing as a starter, DMac the same.

            Even though they can play at higher levels with the skills they do have they’re still far from being fully developed within their core roles.

          • September 13th 2017 @ 1:57pm
            jameswm said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

            All ABs are still being developed in one way or another. You never stop trying to improve.

            • September 13th 2017 @ 3:13pm
              Taylorman said | September 13th 2017 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

              Yes in terms of fully developed in the role Id say Retallick and Whitelock fit that bill. As do Kaino, Read, Ben Smith for sure. Their learning is about doing what they do better, its no longer about development of their skills.

              They have the skills required for the position, and the way the ABs want to use them in their role.

              But most of the others…Coles, the newer props and 6’s, even Aaron Smith are still developing in some way.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 1:02pm
        soapit said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

        didnt jones resist putting him at 10 after macqueen asked to try him there as the wallaby hoped he could solve the 5/8 problems

      • September 13th 2017 @ 2:33pm
        Markus said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

        Larkham moved to playing flyhalf outside Gregan in juniors first, before his move to fullback at the Brumbies due to Knox’s presence. He had definitely played in the position before.

        • September 13th 2017 @ 4:40pm
          Blindfreddy said | September 13th 2017 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

          As soapit pointed out it was Macqueen who moved Bernie from FB to flyhalf. However he did play halfback in club rugby for Wests. Could be wrong but dont think he played junior rugby in this position. I played colts in Canberra against Gregan who was a flyhalf who moved in one. Finegan mentions his Wests HB roots here: http://www.rugby.com.au/news/2016/04/23/22/04/finegan-weekend-at-bernies

    • September 13th 2017 @ 8:26am
      Daveski said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      Hoopers Super Rugby stats this year around ruck pilfers and forced penalties would suggest the premise of this article is junk.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 8:33am
        Fionn said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        Stats in isolation don’t tell the full story, Daveski.

        Hooper excels at the ruck and pilfering around the fringes and away from heavy traffic. Because of his speed he can often force a quick turnover when the carrier gets isolated.

        In heavy traffic, however he is, by international standards at least, poor at the breakdown. I also think that at test level ball carriers get isolated less often and there is less of a chance of a turnover away from forwards cleaning out.

        • September 13th 2017 @ 11:24am
          Highlander said | September 13th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

          Fionn, I read the Hooper/Pocock thread under Nicks column yesterday with real interest

          We know that playing them together doesn’t work against the top sides and thus the coach has a choice to make.

          For all the heat Hooper catches, he is a ‘big moments’ guy and the Wallaby season would look a lot different without his impact.

          Off the top of my head
          – cover tackle on fraser brown v Scotland
          – cover tackle on serfontain
          – charge down of the droppie on Jantjes on full time
          – there a cover tackle in Bled 2 (damned if I can remember who on), but no doubt I will catch this game in the gym over next week and will check.
          – Two of the opening tries in the 17-0 lead in Dunedin don’t get scored without Hooper on the park.

          Would suggest none of these ‘big moments óccur with any other option at 7 for Australia.
          Is it worth the trade off of changing him or do you get ruck impact guys at 6 and 8.
          If it was my side I would go for the latter.

          • September 13th 2017 @ 11:38am
            Phil said | September 13th 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

            As usual,Highlander,a lot of common sense from you.Cheika needs to fix 6 and 8 as you say.Hooper is the 7 and that’s the end of the story.

            • September 13th 2017 @ 12:28pm
              Crash Ball2 said | September 13th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

              But it’s not the end of the story Phil is it? Inconvenient as it might be for some, this is a theme that will persist because selecting Hooper @ 7 elicits inherent capability flaws for the Wallabies in tight collisions, set piece and at ruck and maul. The “big moments” example is poignantly ironic, as much of the work of the truly great openside flankers is the unheralded, coal-face, dirty work achieved in the dark places mere mortals dare not stick their heads and numbers are not measured. Cover tackles, charge downs, line breaks in the three quarter channel: all worthy contributions – none of which necessarily need to be made wearing the 7 jersey (hence the genesis of the article). Far, far too many commentators quote Super rugby pilfer stats as the singular, omnipotent metric to qualify the effectiveness of an openside flanker. Dominate collisions and control the gain line, clean out would-be jackals with venom, compete for possession at defensive breakdowns, slow quick opposition ball, commit extra attackers close to the central battle zone, provide fulcrum leverage in mauls, add strong weight and technique to scrums: not many of these are vanilla stats-friendly (and are therefore invisible to the spreadsheet analysts amongst us) or generally draw Greg Clark’s tonsils warbling like a flowing, ensemble backline move. But they are the patented domain of all the best openside flankers. Hooper to the bench in 2018.

              • September 13th 2017 @ 1:02pm
                Highlander said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

                And thus the choice CB2 – which type of player do the wallabies want at 7, and the primary choices could not be more black and white.
                Actually the only Aus 7 well rounded on both sides of the ball is probably Liam Gill and he gone.

                Quoting turnover stats from Super rugby I agree is erroneous.

                And its value as being a core tenet of the 7 role will change with the new laws, but it has actually been changed for years at international level.

                I would argue though that Australia is the last major nation where the fans see stealing the ball at ruck time as an essential skill. Impact at the ruck, in both directions is required and I agree Hooper is lightweight in these.

                Last year Fekitoa and Naholo were in NZs top 3 for turnovers, so hardly the 7’s domain alone anymore.

                I also want my 7’s to be an attacking threat in addition to their tight work, even as McCaw visibly slowed in his later years he never lost his attacking threat, throwing the last pass for tries in the semi and final at last RWC being a good example.

              • September 13th 2017 @ 1:55pm
                Crash Ball2 said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

                I agree re: Gill, Highlander. Also that the comparison between a Hooper-augmented Wallabies backrow and a Pocock bolstered one is stark. With Pooper, Cheik’s clearly wanted to both have and eat his cake, but in trying to squeeze in both opensides, he has patently sacrificed a whole range of notable forward capabilities the Wallabies didn’t have to lose. The continued Hooper / McMahon alignment in 2017 (not even taking into account Hanigan) is doing so doubly – similar weaknesses with less of the benefits.

                McCaw was phenomenal. If Cheik’s ever wanted a 3D/HD example of the transformative power of change, a quick review of Richie’s career might provide some inspiration.

                I would have loved to see a 6. RHP / Fardy, 7. Hooper / McMahon, 8. Higginbotham / Timani deployment this season.

                But with Pocock’s return in 2018, there’s no debate who should wear the 7 jersey for mine.

              • September 13th 2017 @ 2:03pm
                jameswm said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

                “selecting Hooper @ 7 elicits inherent capability flaws for the Wallabies in tight collisions, set piece and at ruck and maul”

                Really?

                Firstly, Nick has said Hooper is one of our best at offensive cleanouts.

                Next, his detractors concede he does get turnovers, just not the ones closer to the rucks they want.

                Next, his detractors tell us his influence on moments that actual score or stop points are less important.

                Lastly – how does Hooper unbalance us at the set piece? Or in the maul? Or in rucks?

                Seriously – the guy will never please some.

              • Roar Guru

                September 13th 2017 @ 2:45pm
                PeterK said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

                A no 7 needs to defend attacking rucks by being there first and pilfer or slow defensive rucks.

                However they are not expected to dominate collisions (they are not that big, you expect Kriel to do that?).

              • September 13th 2017 @ 3:21pm
                Crash Ball2 said | September 13th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

                “Nick has said”. Right. We’ll speak no more of clean outs then. Case closed. Royal Flush. Opinion adjusted.

                I commented that pilfer stats in Super rugby (or any form) are not the definitive, inarguable (or additionally, objective) metric to measure an openside flanker’s effectiveness at the breakdown. You disagree?

                I don’t disagree that Hooper’s open running, pace and application are great assets. My view is simply that these aren’t the key criteria that either the Wallabies openside flanker or the Wallabies team (and particularly the forward pack), requires. Those “big moment” attributes are the kind I seek in my backline (which is exactly the point of the article).

                By definition, all rugby players should positively influence the moments that actual score or stop points. Opinion differs however, on the level of influence attributed to the bloke that actually dots the ball down and collects the plaudits, or the ones further up the lifecycle who gained the coal face forward momentum, affected the brutal clean out to allow quick ball and also did so at the preceding half dozen attacking rucks (no applause given or generally asked for). I clearly measure the effectiveness of my loose forwards in different terms to you. That’s OK. But it’s patently not the long bow you seem to think I’m drawing. And topic’s like this (light hearted or not) wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a general conversation being had in homes, at workplaces, at pubs and in the media. It is not the “end of the story” – and that end is unlikely to be found as long as the situation persists.

                You need only go back as far as the 36th minute of the second Bledisloe to find a meerkatting Michael Hooper failing to bolster his side of a backward moving Wallabies scrum and – despite having two eyes on the AB’s halfback – being completely nutmegged by Aaron Smith who strolled through, accosted, under the Wallabies sticks. Hooper’s set piece influence in this instance was wholly negative. I’m certainly not picking Hooper on the basis of his lineout capabilities. He is sometimes better than others – but generally, a good set piece exponent Hooper most definitely is not.

                Short arms. Moderate kegs. Modest resilience in contact. No one needs to go through the physical and physiological realities of maul defence. Not a judgement. Can have the biggest heart in the world – will still get manhandled by bigger, taller, more powerful blokes in dynamic, rolling contact.

              • September 13th 2017 @ 3:27pm
                Crash Ball2 said | September 13th 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

                Are they expected to make line breaks in the three quarter channel or score tries near the corner flag PK (they are not that fast, do you expect Kriel to do that)?

                Between abrasiveness in the tight versus pace on the flanks, I know which quality I’d like my Wallabies openside to possess more of.

              • Roar Guru

                September 13th 2017 @ 3:38pm
                PeterK said | September 13th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

                Crashball 2 – All I am saying it is not expected for opensiders to dominate collisions against the bigger forwards. Tackle them but not dominate collisions.

                It is a nice to have.

                I expect every other forward to though.

              • September 13th 2017 @ 3:44pm
                Crash Ball2 said | September 13th 2017 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

                I get that PK. Some – slightly tongue in cheek – poetic licence on my part.

              • September 13th 2017 @ 7:39pm
                Pavid Docock said | September 13th 2017 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

                Crash Ball 2. Thank you for your eloquent and considered opinion about the Pocock vs Hooper argument, and illustrating all your assertions with reasonable, balanced explanations and examples. Your comments are a better read than any article I have seen on the matter and they perfectly reflect how I have been feeling about it for the last few seasons. It’s good to hear a point of view that I share conveyed so articulately. You sound like a backrower, or at least like you’ve played in the engine room somewhere!

                I think Highlander’s comments are pretty interesting. However, as CB2 alluded to, I do agree that the “big moments” that Hooper supposedly lives for are symptomatic of a forward pack, and in turn rugby team, that is constantly in panic mode due to a failure to assert it’s dominance at ruck time. This lack of regular success at securing quick ball and disrupting opposition rucks, cripples any ability to control tempo or possession.

                This was highlighted perfectly in the Rugby Championship game against South Africa on the weekend. I was surprised to read that many commenters were pleased with the result of Saturday’s game, citing that “it wasn’t a loss”, “it was close and edge of your seat” and “it was an exciting back an forth spectacle”. I personally found the game immensely frustrating to watch. It seem to me to be a stop/start match between two teams who showed very poor skills across the board. The difference between the two forward packs was that the South Africans were dominant at the collision and more aggressive at the breakdown. The only reason they didn’t beat the Wallabies, was their lack of execution of simple skills. (And, as Highlander mentioned, the fantastic covering tackle from our openside flanker.)

                Now the balance of our backrow isn’t the only issue our forward pack possesses. But getting it right, with the resources we have, is going to go a long way to fixing those problems in tight. I would love to see a proper openside replacing Hooper, but considering that the current crop of contenders may not be up to test standard (I still rate Colby Fainga’a btw), someone like Richard Hardwick should be given a proper go. I’ve seen him play 7 on occasion and he has size and aggression, and seems to pilfer better than most blokes. I don’t really understand Cheika’s obsession with undersized 6’s (McMahon, Korczyk, Dempsey) who have a high workrate, but ultimately can’t shift bodies effectively at ruck time, or hold their own in the set piece.

                Hardwick, with Lopeti Timani/Lukhan Tui at 6, and the very green Rob Valentini at 8 (or, sigh, Higginbotham if he can consistently lift his workrate…) would be a decent back row combination.

                And, if you really wanted Hooper in the team he could seriously put on some kilos and convert to hooker (I respect Nick Bishop, but I don’t buy that all hookers need to be monsters in test rugby). It’ll be a lot easier than a move to the backline – even though he positions himself there more often than not…

              • September 13th 2017 @ 11:05pm
                Crash Ball2 said | September 13th 2017 @ 11:05pm | ! Report

                Thanks PD. Kind words.

                Frustrated former centre. Always wished I was a forward.

          • September 13th 2017 @ 1:05pm
            soapit said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

            perhaps higlander, but those inceidents dont exist on their own and there could possibly have been opportunities missed by having hooper there (no im not going to search for them, they just as likely dont exist)

            i dont think any sane person would dispute he does some special things. the question is how much if anything is paid in the remainder of the match to have them.

            • September 13th 2017 @ 1:18pm
              Highlander said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

              I don’t disagree soapit

              Its all a little ‘sliding doors’ on the opportunity cost of one player over another, esp when skill sets are diverse.

              But that is surely what the coaching team are balancing every week. (or you would hope)

              • September 13th 2017 @ 2:14pm
                soapit said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                yep, said it before but hooper presents quite a puzzle to selectors to crack

          • September 13th 2017 @ 1:19pm
            wally said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

            did the wallabies win any of those games where hooper had his “big moments”?
            What if the answer is to be done with the showy “big moments” and start making all the little moments count? I guess we’ll never know under the current coach.
            (same goes for the 10 jersey…albeit without the “big moments”, he tends to just deliver moments)

        • September 13th 2017 @ 1:58pm
          jameswm said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

          Fionn few get many turnovers in heavy traffic in tests.

          • Roar Guru

            September 13th 2017 @ 2:01pm
            Train Without A Station said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

            Exactly.

            Legally it’s almost impossible to turn over the ball in heavy traffic given support is so close.

            You rely on support failing to arrive to effect a turnover.

          • Roar Guru

            September 14th 2017 @ 8:30am
            John R said | September 14th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

            The argument started as ‘he can’t get turnovers’

            Then it pivoted to ‘he doesn’t get the RIGHT turnovers’ once the original argument was empirically proven to be false.

      • Roar Guru

        September 13th 2017 @ 9:07am
        Mango Jack said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

        Will is talking about test rugby, and makes the distinction between it and SR, where Hooper performs pretty well, for reasons Fionn states above.

        “He wins a fair bit of turnover ball for the Waratahs. But at international level, it’s fair to say – most noticeably against the top sides – he’s not as dominant at the breakdown.”

        • Roar Guru

          September 13th 2017 @ 2:02pm
          Train Without A Station said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

          In 3 games Sam Cane hasn’t won a turnover.

        • September 13th 2017 @ 2:04pm
          jameswm said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

          Pocock’s not as dominant at the breakdown in tests compared to Super rugby either. You get the “step up” thing?

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