Wallabies wary of Japan ambush
The Wallabies are chasing five successive wins for the first time in six years in Saturday’s battle with Japan.
Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper is wary of a Japan ambush on Saturday as the Australians chase five successive wins for the first time since 2015.
Hooper said there was never any chance the Wallabies would rest key players for the Test at Oita Stadium despite potentially tougher clashes against Scotland, England and Wales next month in the United Kingdom.
“There’s no joke – the Japanese are a solid team with threats across the board,” Hooper said.
“They have been a force that’s been growing quite quickly, certainly from 2015 onwards, and they obviously had a great showing in 2019 (at the World Cup) and a few really solid performances this year.”
“They play a high-tempo game. They’ll look to run things a lot. They’ve got some really good athletes.
“It will be a real challenge to nullify that speed and to take them to some places that they’re uncomfortable with.”
Hooper is glad the Wallabies are out of their comfort zone in chasing a fifth-straight victory.
Their run of four consecutive wins in the Rugby Championship came on home soil.
“Now we’re out of our own backyard,” the star flanker said.
“We’re going to go and play in some of the great stadiums around the world.
“These four games present us with a chance not only to build our game and see how we can grow and develop but also play some different styles of rugby that we haven’t been exposed to for quite a while.
“Put ourselves up against that and playing away from home is so critical in Test footy.”
It’s particularly “critical” for the younger members of Australia’s squad as preparations step up for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
“A lot of our younger players haven’t had that experience before, so certainly two years out from a World Cup up in that part of the world, it’s a really good experience for our group,” Hooper said.
The Wallabies side will include in-form flyhalf Quade Cooper, whose place in the touring squad to the UK is yet to be confirmed despite strong indications from coach Dave Rennie on Thursday that the 33-year-old former Queensland Reds star would tour despite his commitments with Japanese club Kintetsu Liners.
“Quade’s been fantastic. He’s been a great addition to the team on and off the park,” Hooper said of Cooper, who was returned to the Wallabies fold this year after an absence dating back to 2017.
“He’s be very giving of his time to younger players and the team in general.
“On the field that experience counts for a fair bit at Test level.
“He’s definitely left a great mark and a good impression on the team.”
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