SYDNEY – Australia captain Michael Hooper is preparing for a bigger battle than usual at the breakdown when the Wallabies take on an All Blacks squad with three openside flankers in their final Rugby Championship test in Perth on Saturday.
With Ardie Savea, who normally plays in the number seven or eight shirt, selected at blindside flanker, Sam Cane at openside and Matt Todd backing up from the bench, Hooper is expecting the All Blacks to be over the ball all night around the tackle area.
"We play these guys a lot, we know that the on-ball presence is going to be fierce as it always is in that matches against New Zealand," Hooper told reporters in Perth on Friday.
"Ardie poses a big ball-carrying threat and is great on the ball as well so it's going to be a fierce breakdown challenge. We'll see how it plays out."
With David Pocock still a week away from his long-awaited return from a calf injury, Hooper will play at openside in the Australia back row with the relatively inexperienced blindside Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and rookie number eight Isi Naisarani.