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  • Hooper says McMahon can have ‘massive influence’ against Springboks

    2019 - 03.13

    Wallabies captain Michael Hooper expects South Africa to be extremely potent at the breakdown on Saturday but feels that Australia’s No.8 Sean McMahon can have a “massive influence” on the match if he backs up his form from Dunedin.
    Nanjing Night Net

    McMahon had arguably his best game in a Wallaby jersey during Australia’s 35-29 loss to the All Blacks a fortnight ago.

    After a quiet match by his standards in Sydney, McMahon consciously injected himself into the game, making considerably more carries and getting through a mountain of work at the breakdown alongside Hooper.

    Coach Michael Cheika’s praise for McMahon was profound after the match and Hooper is hoping he brings the same ferocity with ball in hand at nib Stadium.

    “Seany can have a massive influence when he gets that right,” Hooper said. “Sean’s an outstanding player and we’ve seen, here last year, one of the best runs I’ve seen from a Wallaby player. [He] beat like 10 defenders on a charge, coming off the bench. Seany’s strong in the tackle, strong making his tackles and he’s good over the ball as well.”

    The Springboks have picked a back row featuring Siya Kolisi, the equal-leading try scorer of the Rugby Championship thus far, as well as Jaco Kriel at No.7 and three-gamer Uzair Cassiem at the back of the scrum.

    The Wallabies have coughed up their fair share of ball at the breakdown this year and Hooper is wary of the challenge confronting the home side.

    “We expect them to be very strong over the ball,” Hooper said. “Both of those players [Kriel and Kolisi] are really good carriers and defenders there. It’s a different jersey size at the end of the day, from some of the guys that used to be playing to what they are now, but [they are] no less effective in what they do and how they get around the field. For us as a back row, we’ve got our hands full.”

    So much has been made of the Springboks’ resurgence after winning just four matches from 12 attempts last year, their worst year on record since 1992.

    All five of South Africa’s wins in 2017 have been between 18 and 23 points, compared to last year when their biggest victory margin was eight points, against the Wallabies in Pretoria.

    They have employed inventive tactics, including lineouts with both backs and forwards together, as well as upping their skills across the board to create a side very much capable of beating the Wallabies at home.

    The Wallabies have beaten the Springboks seven of the past eight times on Australian soil and Hooper is not quite sure what the visitors will bring this time around.

    “The first 10, 20 minutes of this game, I’m sure we’ll start to learn how they’re going to play,” Hooper said. “Whether they’re going to run more, whether they’re going to put it up into the air and do it that way.

    “Every time we play these guys, it’s a tough outing. Their success throughout Super Rugby’s been solid. We know they’re going to be a hard team.”

    Asked what the Wallabies needed to improve on from Dunedin, Hooper said: “Restarts, obviously. Just being able to put points on a team and then get the pressure off your back is a big one.

    “A lot’s made of momentum within games and I think restarts are a huge factor in momentum. You can dictate the way the game goes with how you control those areas.”

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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