Bledisloe humbling keeps Hooper grounded

A Bledisloe humbling at Eden Park will drive home the Wallabies’ need to stay grounded after their best victory under Michael Cheika’s leadership.

The Wallabies thrashed England 33-13 at Twickenham on Saturday night to throw the gauntlet down to their World Cup rivals that they’re primed for a tilt at a third lifting of the Webb Ellis Cup.

It was their single most dominant performance under Cheika, eclipsing their Rugby Championship-sealing 27-19 win over the All Blacks in Sydney in August.

What happened after that victory is what Cheika and his team have seared into their memories to serve as a reminder to not get ahead of themselves.

The Wallabies were thrashed 41-13 in the return Bledisloe Cup fixture a week later, albeit in a match where Cheika had made a raft of changes with a view towards tinkering with his World Cup lineup.

“That was a great win back home under different circumstances but then we went the following week (to New Zealand) and got touched up a bit,” said vice-captain Michael Hooper.

“I guess if you can look at both games, we’ll be looking for that not to happen next week (against Wales on Saturday).”

Hooper and Cheika attempted to diffuse the hyperbole which surrounded their emphatic victory, as the British press anointed them tournament favourites alongside New Zealand.

“It’s a good confidence booster for us and pleasing that we could finally not tackle each other during the week and get to tackle an opposition,” Hooper said.

“It was good for us and it’s pleasing that we’re starting to get to where we want to but there’s still a lot of work.

“We’ve got to rest, recover and review (on Sunday) and go from there.”

Cheika said nothing had changed about their approach all tournament, despite the victory over England drawing much more attention than earlier ones over Fiji and Uruguay.

He was wary of the threat posed by Wales, who last week upset England to move into second in the world rankings – above Australia.

Their coach, Warren Gatland, has been praised for his meticulous preparation and Cheika gave his thoughts on “the master”.

“This whole journey for us is about ourselves and where we’ve come from, 12 months ago,” said Cheika, who took over the Wallabies six days before last year’s spring tour.

“We’ve still got so much to do. We’re coming up against the master coach next week.

“He knows how to manoeuvre things around and is very successful at what he does.

“I’ve been in the lower tier (of coaching) but there’s no need for any of those types of statements or anything like that.

“It’s just about improving each day.

“I’m not going to change my tune because we’ve won a game.

“We’ve just got to keep doing it, stay real, be humble and get onto the next day’s preparation and try and improve a bit.”

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