Brumbies’ Hooper firms as future Wallaby

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    It took Michael Hooper a couple of weeks to even secure a starting role for the Brumbies but coach Jake White already rates him a strong contender for a Wallabies debut this year.

    Hooper’s man-of-the-match performance in the Brumbies’ 33-26 Super Rugby victory over the previously unbeaten Highlanders last Saturday was so impressive that many others will agree.

    Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has no clear-cut openside flanker back-up to champion David Pocock – so much so that, controversially, he didn’t even take one to last year’s World Cup.

    But 20-year-old Hooper thrust his name right into the mix as he bobbed up everywhere at Canberra Stadium while making a match-high 26 tackles, forcing several turnovers, scoring the final try and having a hand in another to help lift the Brumbies atop the Australian conference.

    White had no doubt a Wallabies call up is within range for Australia A representative Hooper, who was named player of the tournament in last year’s junior World Cup.

    “There’s no doubt in my mind about that,” said White.

    “The bottom line is that Michael’s been groomed as a junior and everyone speaks highly of him.

    “He’s had an outstanding year last year in the (world) under-20s tournament and he was one of the players that obviously caught the eye of all the coaches that were there.”

    White also cited Hooper’s ability to lift his teammates through his own workrate.

    “As long as Michael keeps playing like he does, he sets the bar higher and higher for the players that want to take his jersey.”

    The Brumbies prepare to take on the tough and seasoned Sharks at Canberra Stadium this Saturday, aiming to extend their 2012 undefeated home record by another week.

    Lock Leon Power said the Brumbies have already moved on from Saturday’s impressive victory.

    “We’ve got to wipe that Highlanders game now and focus all our energy on the Sharks because that’s all that matters at the moment,” he said.

    “The Sharks are obviously playing well and they were unlucky to lose (against the Waratahs), so they’ll be fired up for sure.”

    Largely written off in the pre-season, the Brumbies have emerged as the surprise packet of the Australian conference after three victories and just one, tight loss against the Chiefs.

    Both White and Power stressed it’s still early days.

    “There’s still a lot more we’ve got to work on. We’ve got to be improving each week – every team will – if we want to have a fair shot of making the playoffs,” Power said.

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • March 28th 2012 @ 10:30am
      jameswm said | March 28th 2012 @ 10:30am | ! Report

      I saw some of this kid playing in the U20s. He was magnificent there, in an again poorly coached rabble.

      There’s certainly a huge shadow behind Pocock, that someone needs to step into.

    • March 28th 2012 @ 3:40pm
      Wilson said | March 28th 2012 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

      It is no secret that I am a Matt Hodgson supporter (from past posts). He has been immense at Super level for at least 3 seasons. He has won player of the year twice for a team that has had up to 11 Wallabies in the team. He has had precious few opportunities under Deans and when he has he has often pulled out Man of the Match performances. What more does the man have to do to get recognition from Deans? He is playing even better rugby than Pocock again this year with the Stats to prove it (please consult the Force Stats not those on Fox Sports as they keep giving his efforts to Pocock, while the Force know who Hodgson is). Hodgson is an ideal bench option as he has proven to be competitive at all back row positions, even taking Brown’s 8 position for games this year despite him being back from injury. He is faster than Pocock, is only 1cm shorter and 1 kg lighter. He has been the answer for years and yet Deans has blocked his Wallabies development. Certainly there will be young men coming through that will take their turn in the spot light, when they have the experiemnce and bulk to back it up at international level. Hodgson should have 30 plus caps. But Deans can’t turn his potential into the benefit he would and can be to the Wallabies.

      • March 28th 2012 @ 9:11pm
        Short-Blind said | March 28th 2012 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

        agree Wilson -see link below for a discussion about what a world class 7 needs to bring to the table. I do think they over rate Pocock a bit because I don’t think his ball skills and link/running game come anywhere near world class (M Jones etc). As I’ve stated in other threads guys like Hooper(particularly) and Hodgson if given a crack by Deans could provide a better all round 7 option than Poey – but I can’t see that happen g with the current selection conservatism

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