‘We are up for it’: Michael Hooper echoes Eddie Jones’ warning for All Blacks

Following the Wallabies’ powerful 31-34 loss to Argentina in Sydney final weekend, coach Eddie Jones walked into the post-match press convention with a smile on his face.

The legendary coach wasn’t pleased with the consequence – after all he wasn’t, removed from it in actual fact.

Jones, who changed Dave Rennie within the position in the beginning of the 12 months, was simply extremely assured that the Wallabies may flip their fortunes round forward of this 12 months’s World Cup.

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It all starts with the All Blacks.

Mid-way through the press conference, Jones throw a cheeky jab at the New Zealanders ahead of the opening Bledisloe Cup Test in Melbourne later this month.

“If I was the All Blacks, I’d look out,” Jones told reporters at CommBank Stadium.

Jones coached the Wallabies to their last Bledisloe Cup series triumph back in 2001, and again when they retained the trophy a year later. While the odds appear to be stacked firmly against the current group, he’s ready for Australia to shock the rugby world.

But that’s still over a week away. After the opening two rounds of The Rugby Championship, all four SANZAAR nations have a bye week.

The week off should give Wallabies co-captain Michael Hooper enough time to recover from an injured calf which ruled the veteran out of the Pumas Test.

Hooper agreed with the sentiment of coach Jones’ post-match warming to the All Blacks, saying that winning and losing is a matter of “small adjustments.”

“We are up for it,” Hooper said on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby. “We know we need to improve but these aren’t crazy margins, it’s Test match rugby.. it is little margins that make a big difference.

“That first game in Pretoria and now, definitely not the results we want or think we’re capable of but we make some small adjustments, we’re a team that’s only been together – to make an excuse, you hate making excuses but I will – a short amount of time.

“We start putting more meat on the bone, it’s going to start getting better and get better quick.

“The challenge for us is to really maintain that belief and confidence and Eddie is a pro at driving that belief and keeping us on track with that.

“In terms of New Zealand, they’re going to be on regardless, they don’t need any fuel to fire.”

The Wallabies and All Blacks are coming off two very different starts to The Rugby Championship.

New Zealand opened their account with a comfortable win over Argentina in Mendoza, before hosting world champions South Africa in Auckland.

The All Blacks, especially in the first quarter of the Test, looked like a team possessed. Led by the likes of Will Jordan and Shannon Frizellthe hosts raced out to an early lead.

Eventually, the Springboks beast was slain 35-20 at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.

“They’re smart, hey? They are just so deliberate with how they want to play on the field,” Hooper added, speaking about the All Blacks.

“I missed the first half and I’ll get to that, but I got to watch the second half on my tiny, little phone… they absorb pressure and absorb pressure, and South Africa looked like they were coming back and starting to get their traditional game going.

“But the ability of New Zealand to get a turnover somehow and play down and get the ball down to the other end, apply pressure, make South Africa give away a penalty and then they’re in the corner, it was super impressive.

“It’s such an exciting challenge for us.”

The Wallabies take on fierce rivals New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29. That is the first of two Bledisloe Cup Tests.

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Printed : 2023-07-21 02:26:39

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