MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia captain Michael Hooper is confident he will be fit for next week’s Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener against the All Blacks after a long spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Hooper was hurt on international duty against Ireland during the June tests, the injury ending his Super Rugby season with the New South Wales Waratahs and his run of 79 consecutive matches with the Sydney side.
The uncompromising flanker completed his first full day of training with the Wallabies at their camp in Cessnock, New South Wales, and felt he would be in good shape for the All Blacks test in Sydney on Aug. 18.
“Hiccups aside, with a week of training, I should be in a good position next week,” he said in a report on Rugby Australia’s website (rugby.com.au).
Hooper said his time on the sidelines had given him an opportunity to view the game from a different perspective but he was ready to get back to playing.
“I want to get back on the field but it’s given me a different perspective at some of the great things that go on around rugby. It’s been enjoyable to give my body a rest but I want to get back on the field,” he added.
Michael Cheika’s Wallabies are in familiar territory of trying to win back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks, who have held the annual trophy contested between the Antipodean nations since 2003.
Different this year is the Wallabies’ preparation, the team having played a practice game against a Super Rugby selection last week to try to keep some match fitness.
Hooper felt that game had been the ideal preparation for a Wallabies side that was belted by Steve Hansen’s men in the last two series openers, which set the tone for another two years of frustration.
“I have heard the guys felt that really big contact and have some soreness and so on, and it was great mental preparation leading into the game too,” he said.
“There would have been pressure to not lose that game, to start with, and to also turn in good performance. They all did a good job.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)