Waratahs can upstage Kiwi teams: Hooper

He knows the Hurricanes could drop the curtain on their Super Rugby season.

But captain Michael Hooper says the NSW Waratahs are buoyed by knowledge they are capable of upstaging troublesome Kiwi sides, as shown by their recent job on the Chiefs.

The Waratahs are locked in a fight for survival against New Zealand opponents the Hurricanes and the Blues in the final two rounds of the regular season.

They enter Saturday’s match level on points but one win behind the Australian conference-leading ACT Brumbies, who can extend their advantage against the Blues on Friday.

Bonus points will be crucial given Daryl Gibson’s side are also four points shy of an Australasian group wildcard spot.

One is held by the Hurricanes, who also need back-to-back victories to book their playoff spot.

Despite the pressure, Hooper said the Tahs were less daunted following their 45-25 win over Australasian group leaders the Chiefs before the June window.

“It proved to us we can do it against the Kiwi teams,” Hooper said.

“We’ve had a bit of trouble with them … so to do that against a really form team, and play the game you’ve got to play against a Kiwi side, that was probably most pleasing thing.”

Key is the recall of veteran No.8 Wycliff Palu (shoulder), who was a real force in that May win and who will likely play his final home match alongside Dave Dennis, while injured teammates Benn Robinson and Kurtley Beale are also leaving.

Gibson says the imminent departures give his squad even more reason to lift.

“We’re treating this week as a bit of a farewell to a number of our players, being the last regular-season home game,” Gibson said.

“There is no next week if we don’t perform.

“We had to perform well and guts it out last year, and this year it’s about survival.

“And the Hurricanes are certainly one of the most dangerous teams in the competition.

“It will be all about intent, about being that one metre ahead of them and showing we need this game to win in our season.”

The Waratahs have been beaten just once in the past seven rounds, a 29-10 capitulation to the Crusaders in the wet in May.

Hooper said they had learnt valuable lessons from that match, especially given Saturday’s could go down in similar conditions.

“The thing we learnt most was we were too defensive,” Hooper said.

“You look at the NZ teams in the wet, they just play.

“That’s one thing that we’ve taken from them is that, rain or shine, we’re going to try and be positive and play with the ball.”

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