Australian rugby fans haven’t seen the last of the Wallabies’ attacking approach, but vice-captain Michael Hooper says his teammates have to play smarter if they are to persist with their ball-in-hand beliefs.
The Wallabies were soundly beaten 23-7 by England in Melbourne on Saturday night, despite playing with 71 and 74 percent of the possession and territory respectively.
England assistant coach Paul Gustard has since been lauded for his side’s resolute defence, an attitude he helped galvanise ahead of kick-off via a 1930s poem.
Hooper also paid tribute to the England coaching setup — as he did the players — but said the focus was now on Australia to refine their attacking approach.
“We’ve got to be smarter,” he said after arriving in Sydney on Sunday. “Teams are picking a way to play us, put us under pressure and get points that way. So we’ve got to be able to counter that and we haven’t done that well in the first two games at all.”
The Wallabies openside was the subject of controversy after footage appeared to show him throwing loose AAMI Park turf towards England at the scrum. However, a second camera angle cleared him of any wrongdoing, and Hooper said the squad were desperate to finish the series with a win.
“[It’s] really tough, it hurts just as bad today and it’s going to be a tough few days looking at the review,” he said. “It can only go up at the moment. We’re pretty low all of us which is a good sign, the fact it’s really hurt us. We’ll take a really tough look at ourselves, Cheik and the boys are going really pick apart our game and see where we can go on-field.”
Meanwhile, Australian Rugby Union [ARU] chief executive Bill Pulver has issued one final insult to AAMI Park by threatening to take future Tests away from the venue unless the playing surface improves.
There were grave fears as to whether the turf would survive the scrum force generated at Test level and those fears were realised from the very first set-piece.
“We have expressed our extreme disappointment to the Melbourne and Olympic Trust [MOPT] following last night’s Test at AAMI Park,” Pulver said via an ARU media release. “The playing surface was clearly not up to the standards required for international rugby.”
While not yet official, Pulver said the ARU had an agreement to play a Test at the venue in 2017. But a repeat of Saturday night will not be tolerated, giving AAMI Park 12 months to bring its turf up to scratch.
“AAMI Park must investigate all technology available to improve the surface. If we don’t have satisfactory progress in the coming months, we’ll need to revisit our agreement with them for 2017.
“We want to work with the venue to ensure the stadium is suitable to host rugby matches moving forward.”
ESPN.com – RUGBY