Wallabies vice-captain Michael Hooper denies he had a point to prove to doubters of the ‘Pooper’ back-row combination in Saturday night’s win over South Africa.
Hooper was man-of-the-match in the 23-17 victory, which ended a run of six consecutive Test defeats for Australia.
He ripped through 13 tackles – more than any other player on the park – while also seizing two turnovers in a tireless 80-minute shift.
It came on the back of two weeks of intense debate over whether Australia should continue with Hooper and David Pocock as dual opensides, or dump one of them to the bench and revert to a more traditional back-row structure.
While Pocock was subdued by his usual high standards, the strength of Hooper’s performance suggested there’s still plenty of value in the current set-up, but he said the external chatter around his position did not motivate him.
“I think what’s important for each individual in the situation we were in is to try and do your role,” he said.
“The coaches pick you to try and put what he sees (as) your strengths out on the field and do that as much as possible.
“I didn’t have a point to prove – what I wanted to show myself and the staff that you can do the role.
“I thought 1-15 did that, certainly for the majority of the game.”
The Wallabies will find out just how genuine their resurgence is when they face Argentina in the Rugby Championship’s fourth round in Perth this weekend.
The Pumas copped a heavy defeat to the All Blacks on Saturday but took the game right to them for the better part of an hour.
“They came out of the blocks hard and we’ve started slow in all our games this year so that’s certainly something we need to rectify,” he said.
“They’re good around the field, their offload play’s brilliant.
“We don’t play them too much, it’s a different style, something we’re getting more used to but not something we’re fully across yet.”