Wallabies vice-captain Michael Hooper has opened up about Bob Dwyer’s controversial criticism of his form earlier in the year, saying it motivated him to become a better player.
Hooper looks set to retain the No.7 jersey for the series opening Test against England next Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium.
But less than two months ago he was in the crosshairs of Dwyer, the former World Cup-winning Wallaby coach, who slammed what he saw as a huge downturn in the 24-year-old’s form for the NSW Waratahs and ranked him as the worst openside in Australian rugby.
Hooper said he never lost sleep over the saga but admitted it served to steel his resolve and lift his output.
“It can’t not help, it can’t not give you a little bit,” Hooper said.
“At the end of the day, rugby’s grey. The fact is it’s subjective, everyone has an opinion, everyone sees the position differently and sees how they would like the position played.
“So I just roll with what I know I need to do on the field and what my game is and what I need to bring to hopefully and potentially be a part of this team.”
Dwyer has since changed his tune, telling the Green & Gold Army Podcast on Friday he thought Hooper was “absolutely outstanding” in the Waratahs’ 45-25 win over the Chiefs, their final Super Rugby match before the June international break.
“As good as I’ve seen him play… I’ll give him full marks now, he’s back to form,” Dwyer said.
Hooper said he tried to take as much in the way of advice as he could from Dwyer’s spray but felt his form for the year was largely satisfactory.
“It was pretty straightforward, what he was saying, without going into too much detail, I knew the gist of what he was getting at,” he said.
“No, I just rolled with it. I just took it as a whole and tried to leave it behind as quickly as possible.
“For me personally I’ve been trying to do my role as what I want to put on the field and what Daryl (Gibson) back at the Waratahs wants me to do and I think ‘Cheik’s’ pretty aligned with Daryl in how he wants to see my game.
“So I’ve been trying to put that out for most of the year and mostly, I’ve been happy.”
The Wallabies’ preparations for the first Test begin on Sunday in Brisbane, where Michael Cheika’s 33-man squad will assemble for training at Ballymore.