Michael Hooper can’t see anyone but Israel Folau as Wallabies’ fullback

By Vince Rugari, Vince Rugari is a Roar Guru

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    Wallabies vice-captain Michael Hooper doesn’t expect Karmichael Hunt’s terrific Super Rugby form will be enough to dislodge Israel Folau from fullback.

    But Quade Cooper has urged selectors to give the code-hopper a shot in June’s internationals against Fiji, Scotland and Italy, predicting he will take his game to another level in the Test arena.

    Hunt is arguably the form Australian fullback and has been a consistent performer for the Queensland Reds, aggressive in his defence and relentless in his attacking support play.

    The 30-year-old has more line breaks, line break assists, try assists, offloads and tackles than Folau, who has played most of his rugby at outside centre for the Waratahs.

    “I’ve been impressed by Karmichael’s willingness and desire to play hard rugby,” Hooper said.

    “Particularly playing (against) him a couple weeks back, he was wanting to get involved, wanting to get his hands on the ball.

    “I’ve really been enjoying watching him play because you just want guys who are fronting up and just trying really hard.”

    With Dane Haylett-Petty racing the clock to be fit for next month’s Tests, it remains to be seen whether Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will stick with the incumbent Folau or reward Hunt with a start at fullback.

    “It goes back to the coaches and what they see,” Hooper said.

    “I know Izzy’s a very consistent performer and has been one of our best performers in the Wallaby jersey for however long now, so I’m not expecting things to change there.”

    If not fullback, Hunt looms as a solid bench utility option as he has previously played in the centres as well as five-eighth for the Reds, to varying degrees of success.

    Whatever the position, Cooper reckons he deserves to be in Australia’s best 23.

    “He’s got a lot more to give,” Cooper told AAP.

    “He’s one of those guys if there’s a big moment in the game, he’ll step up to it.

    “You put him in a gold jersey and he’s going to find even more in himself.

    “You can see he’s starting to play the game a phase ahead. He knows not only where the space is, but where the space is going to be.”

    The Reds have the bye this week and will face the Western Force at home and then the Blues in Samoa before Super Rugby’s international break.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (70)

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2017 @ 10:12am
      pformagg said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

      Hooper is wearing his sky blue tinted glasses.

      DHP was the best FB in 2016, yet Izzy still got the gig.

      Hunt has been the best FB in 2017 so far, and he deserves the FB position based on form.

      If the Wallabies want to be successful, they need to pick players based on form and not favourites.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 16th 2017 @ 3:41pm
        Dave_S said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

        To be fair, Hooper is very complimentary towards Hunt and he actually says It’s up to the coaches, Folau is the incumbent and “… I’m not expecting things to change there.” I think he’s just anticipating what Cheika will do and being kind to his teammates feelings. Non-story really.

        • Roar Guru

          May 16th 2017 @ 8:09pm
          eagleJack said | May 16th 2017 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

          Shame on you for being able to read and comprehend, Dave_S

          Where’s the faux outrage!!

          From reading the comments below apparently Hooper’s response shows how unfit he is as a leader ?

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2017 @ 10:17am
      Fionn said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

      Folau didn’t deserve the 15 jersey in the World Cup, Beale did; Folau didn’t reserve the 15 jersey in 2016, DHP did; and, Folau doesn’t deserve the 15 jersey in 2017, Hunt does.

      Remains to be seen if it will make a difference.

      • May 16th 2017 @ 6:28pm
        soapit said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:28pm | ! Report

        beale was injured for a long time before the world cup wasnt he? bit hard to draw a conspiracy theory out of them not dropping folau immediately beale was available especially considering he’d been playing 12 and folaus previous form was ok

        • May 16th 2017 @ 6:35pm
          Fionn said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

          Folau was playing great until the World Cup, but then he played the World Cup injured. He missed a few matches and was utterly ineffective in all those he played. Meanwhile, Beale was electric every time he was on the field at the World Cup. I remember his turnover vs Wales when we were defending with 13 men for 10 minutes, and it was Beale who forced the penalty.

          Once Cheika realised Folau was injured and Beale was in great form he needed to drop Folau (out of the 23, not just the 15). He didn’t, and it hurt us in every match Folau played.

          • May 16th 2017 @ 7:34pm
            soapit said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:34pm | ! Report

            fair argument re: form but i dont think you can blame cheika much for sticking with him while we continued winning, espcially how different they both are (in both attack and defence) would guess itd be a fair shake up to swap so it’d need to be pretty clear cut for a change in the middle of a wc campaign.

          • Roar Guru

            May 18th 2017 @ 2:53pm
            Timbo (L) said | May 18th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

            Fionn,
            Do you remember Beale gifting the AB’s a try in the final?
            You might want to put that one in the “Against” column of your “I Love Courtly” poster that you have next to the mirror.

            Fun aside, he has done well for the Wasps this year. The question is whether or not he has what it takes at international level. In my opinion, it hasn’t been proven but I would like to see him given the chance. I think Hunt, DHP and Hodge all do a better job. And Billy Meaks is looking like a future prospect at 12. Who would you drop to make way for him?

      • Roar Guru

        May 18th 2017 @ 2:48pm
        Timbo (L) said | May 18th 2017 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

        Even at the Tahs: Kelaway at 15, Horne at 13. Folau seems to shove them out of the way as well..

    • May 16th 2017 @ 10:19am
      Bfc said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

      Is this some form of Tahs ‘entitlement’ coming to the fore…? Izzy is no where near the form fullback in Oz rugby…he has been poor for some time. Hunt is in form…is a better ball player off the flyhalf, tackles better and can kick better. He deserves a chance…if Cheika doesn’t play “favourites”…!

      • May 16th 2017 @ 6:11pm
        Jimbo81 said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:11pm | ! Report

        Why not drop Izzy to club rugby to motivate him to return to form? He needs to learn to kick as with him at FB, Australia has no exit strategy.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 16th 2017 @ 10:27am
      piru said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

      Here’s an idea, let’s base the selection on actual form, not who’s got the most mates.

      Wondering why the Wallabies suck lately – here it is.

      There are at least 3 more deserving fullbacks in Australian sides this year, but we already know that Folau will get the jersey.

    • May 16th 2017 @ 10:50am
      Jeffrey said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

      When Rieko Ioane scored his second try against the Tahs, the one in the second half, I really couldn’t believe how slow Falou was. Almost seemed like he was jogging in trying to chase Ioane. Seems like he’s not fully switched on mentally this year.

      • Roar Guru

        May 16th 2017 @ 11:47am
        pformagg said | May 16th 2017 @ 11:47am | ! Report

        Not defending Izzy, but Ioane has some pace.

        • Roar Guru

          May 18th 2017 @ 3:00pm
          Timbo (L) said | May 18th 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

          I like my wingers to run fast, my full backs to have situational awareness and my 13’s to be able to bend and break the line, step and run.
          Izzy is a natural 13,

          if you can justify his selection in front of Tavita and Samu, give him the 13 jersey.

          Personaly, I Pick TK to defend against the AB’s and the Poms, Samu everywhere else. But it is still a coin Flip.

          Izzy if both are injured.

    • May 16th 2017 @ 10:51am
      KingCowboy said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

      I think there is a good chance that Folau will be back in the NRL next year. Tigers need a fullback.

      • Roar Guru

        May 16th 2017 @ 11:48am
        pformagg said | May 16th 2017 @ 11:48am | ! Report

        I hope so, he has been wasted at FB for 2 years and looks to have lost interest.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 16th 2017 @ 3:35pm
        Dave_S said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

        I don’t see him as a FB in the NRL either. Wing is his best spot in both codes.

        • May 16th 2017 @ 3:41pm
          KingCowboy said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

          He will want $800k a season and I don’t know if Rugby has a salary cap but you can’t pay a winger that much in the NRL!

        • May 16th 2017 @ 6:30pm
          soapit said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

          he was a centre in league and would expect him back there if he went back again.

      • May 16th 2017 @ 3:58pm
        Jimmy said | May 16th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

        Agree Kingcowboy Folau looks disinterested in rugby now. He looks completely bored. He has already achieved everything he is going to achieve in rugby and rumour has it he wants to finish his career in the NRL.

      • Roar Guru

        May 16th 2017 @ 5:10pm
        Timbo (L) said | May 16th 2017 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

        Auckland Warriors – So he can be with his missus.

        • May 16th 2017 @ 6:56pm
          Bamboo said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

          If its league, it will be the Warriors.

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