Hooper’s hyped for Bok bashers
5 Sep 2012
Wallabies specialist opensider Michael Hooper expects to take a physical beating in Perth on Saturday.
But taking a beating doesn’t mean he will be losing.
Hooper, who replaces the injured David Pocock, believes the lack of a specialist fetcher in the Boks’ starting XV gives him the edge.
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer has selected Bath-based Francois Louw among the substitutes and Louw, who plays a specialist openside role at Bath, is expected to get the last 40 minutes against the Wallabies and start against the All Blacks a week later.
‘I guess when you’re going for a turnover or putting your head in the breakdown, they come in flying,’ Hooper told the media. ‘But in saying that, you’ve got a bit of an opportunity, a bit of a window to force a turnover, because they are bigger blokes. They probably will be a step or two [slower] than if they were playing a traditional seven. There’s opportunities there, but you’ve got to be prepared to be belted.’
Hooper produced an accomplished display in his run-on debut against the All Blacks in Auckland and while he isn’t as physically imposing as Pocock he is no less effective in forcing turnover ball.
Australia have won six of their last seven Tests against the Boks and in most of the victories the Australians have had the edge at the breakdown area.
South Africa’s continued refusal to acknowledge the value of a specialist opensider continues to baffle most opposition coaches and the lack of such a player was noticeable in the 14-14 draw against England in Port Elizabeth and the 16-16 draw against Argentina in Mendoza.