Hooper: Boks face breakdown blues
Hooper: Boks face breakdown bluesSHARE
Australia's new openside star, Michael Hooper, is convinced South Africa could be beaten with the same tactics that worked for the Wallabies at the World Cup last year.
Injured captain David Pocock was a real menace when the Aussies scored a 11-9 win in the World up quarterfinal, with a number of contentious rulings by now axed referee Bryce Lawrence allowing Pocock to reign supreme at the breakdown.
Hooper, who has now stepped into Pocock's role in the Wallaby team, is convinced he can be just as affective when they face the Springboks in a Rugby Championship encounter in Perth on Saturday.
The Boks have again opted against using a specialist openside flank, with coach Heyneke Meyer naming three big ball carriers – Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts and Marcell Coetzee – in his starting XV.
Bath import Francois Louw, who is on the bench, is the specialist pilferer. He came on in the quarterfinal last year, when Heinrich Brüssow was injured in a cheap shot by Dan Vickerman.
However, Louw had no affect on the match, as Pocock continued to dominate amidst a series of puzzling rulings.
Hooper is bracing himself for a physical battering from the bigger-bodied Springboks.
"I guess when you're going for a turnover or putting your head in the breakdown, they come in flying," Hooper told a media scrum on Wednesday.
"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 No.7.
"There's opportunities there, but you've got to be prepared to be belted."
Hooper said South Africa would present a different challenge to the All Blacks, who beat Australia 27-19 and 22-0 in the first two rounds of the competition.
"They're a bigger pack, which brings a different style of how they're going to attack it using more force than skill and things like that," he said.
"I think as I said earlier it is a different challenge in that they're going to use force rather than having that real on the ball player like a Heinrich Brüssow or something like that."
Hooper said he would use his experience from Super Rugby contests against South African teams.
"The contact is a massive thing in South African games," Hooper said.
"Each year over there we played the Bulls and the Lions in very physical games.
"In saying that though, there's areas we can work to avoid those big contacts and get some pay out of it."