Hooper feeling super about final shot

Michael Hooper (Gallo Images)
Michael Hooper (Gallo Images)

Twickenham - Michael Hooper is itching to play in Saturday's Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand but he has warned that Australia have plenty to do to beat their old rivals.

The flank won his 50th cap in Sunday's 29-15 semi-final win over Argentina at Twickenham and said the Wallabies were motivated to face the defending champions, who are also looking to lift the Webb Ellis trophy for a third time.

But Hooper stressed that that the Wallabies needed to work on their defensive discipline to defeat the All Blacks.

"I can't wait for this week. We're going to review the game and recover. There's a few sore bodies," said the Waratahs forward.

"The motivation is there. It's a World Cup final. It's outstanding that we get to play such a good quality team in the final.

"We've played each other a lot so it's always an exciting battle. But this is a completely different kettle of fish. We get to play them away from both of our homes and on a massive stage.

"If you can't get up for a World Cup final then there's issues. We'll be up for it -- no question."

But the 23-year-old warned that they had some defensive work to do after Argentina fly-half Nicolas Sanchez scored five penalties to keep the Pumas within range.

"We didn't let in a try but we let in a couple of penalties which kept them in the game. It's something we have to work on," said Hooper.

"You don't want to keep yourself under pressure with them ticking over the scoreboard and we did that but credit to the Argentinians. They were very good at being able to get down our end and get points.

"We'll look at where we can improve and we're going to need to, come next week."

He also identified the scrum and lost turnovers as areas to improve to bring their best rugby to the sport's biggest stage.

"Our turnovers led to them pressuring us a lot and them getting penalties and keeping them in the game," he said.

"The scrum wasn't where we wanted it to be. They were very good there -- the same with the majority of set pieces.

"It will be something to improve taking into next week but it's what you need to do to go into these finals, to have things to improve on. We wouldn't be a complete unit yet. We need to bring our best game next week."

Lock Rob Simmons intercepted a Sanchez pass for Australia's first try against Argentina, with Adam Ashley-Cooper scoring the other three, but Hooper also picked out the other winger Drew Mitchell for special praise.

"You want your wings to finish well and he did that in spades," he said of Ashley-Cooper.

Meanwhile Mitchell put in "one of the best individual performances I've seen", Hooper said. Mitchell sprinted down the left flank, cut inside and wrong-footed four Argentines before selflessly unloading to Ashley-Cooper to touch down.

Hooper also gave credit to David Pocock and the No 8's fellow backrow forward Scott Fardy, both of whom left the pitch with battered faces.

Pocock "puts his head in some places that are pretty dangerous and gets the ball out - and not just gets a forced penalty, he gets a clean steal and that can change the momentum of a game really well," said Hooper.

"You see Poey's face, you see Fards' head again getting split. You've got to want to put your head in there and guys are wanting to, to get the result."

Fardy said of his stitches: "I've only just got the one tonight. The other one's are old ones. I'll get a few out tonight but I'll be all right."

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