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Richie McCaw's flame still burning bright, says Michael Hooper

Richie rich: Richie McCaw at training on Friday.

Richie rich: Richie McCaw at training on Friday. Photo: AP

The question to Wallabies captain Michael Hooper was never going to get the answer the reporter wished for: is his All Blacks opponent Richie McCaw a spent force?

Hooper may have led the Waratahs to their first Super Rugby title two weeks ago by defeating the Crusaders in a game where McCaw, a veteran of 126 Tests, gave away the final penalty that led to them losing the final 33-32.

But even if he believed the error by McCaw was a sign that his star is on the wane, Hooper would never have given the question any weight – out of genuine respect for the All Blacks captain, and commonsense on the eve of a Bledisloe Cup clash.

If anything, Hooper, who will come up against McCaw as opposing No.7s in Saturday’s Test at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, looked a little stunned when he was popped the question on Friday.

But after a pause, he replied: “[With the] 127 or 129 caps that Richie has got now, there is no chance he is a spent force.”

He then added: “I am pretty pumped to take him on and to run out there against him.”

Hooper also dismissed the notion McCaw would return to ANZ Stadium intent on avenging his costly role in the Super Rugby final's outcome.

“Richie is probably a good enough player to be thinking about the task ahead, and not be dwelling on previous things,” Hooper said. “He would be looking – I assume – forward and looking at how he can get over the line with his team [on Saturday].”

But Hooper, 22, would not label McCaw, 33, as the world benchmark for a No.7, saying it is because of their varying styles.

“It’s hard to say. Every seven plays a different game,” Hooper said.

“I would play a different game to Richie. Richie would play a different game to guys in the past like a ‘Poey’ [David Pocock] or a George Smith. Everyone brings different things to the table. He is very good at disrupting opposition ball and he is a physical presence on the team. One of the biggest things is what he would bring to an All Blacks jersey.”

Despite the anticipation of their head-to-head clash, Hooper said they might not cross paths outside of the coin toss before the game as much as many might hope.

“Like with so many positions … you very rarely run into each other – maybe a couple of times a game, maybe at a breakdown here or there, a run or a tackle,” Hooper said.

But Hooper did predict fireworks as the All Blacks chase a record 18th Test win in a row – the highest winning streak for a top-tier rugby nation – and the Wallabies being desperate to take back the Bledisloe Cup this season for the first time in 12 years.

Asked to describe the step up of intensity from Super to Test rugby, Hooper said: “Those last few games of Super Rugby were pretty full-on – the Brumbies [semi-final] was especially physical and the Crusaders [final] was a cracking match to play in – physical and fast.

"This first [Bledisloe Cup Test] … there is going to be a lot of heat there – [with it being the] first one against the All Blacks. We are going to try and impose ourselves upon these guys and they are trying to get a winning steak. There is going to be some big clashes going straight away.”

3 comments so far

  • The only similarity between McCaw and Hooper is the number seven on their back . They will rarely touch each other . Hooper is the flash everywhere man , and with the long hair he is easy to see . McCaw is less conspicuous , he is not looking for attention . That's his strength as he goes about all the hard tight work that sevens do . He has defined the position . Perhaps Hooper will redefine it , or perhaps not .

    Commenter
    Mankad
    Location
    The Bush
    Date and time
    August 16, 2014, 9:28AM
    • “Like with so many positions … you very rarely run into each other – maybe a couple of times a game, maybe at a breakdown here or there, a run or a tackle,” Hooper said.

      UNBELIEVABLE!! And there lies the problem with Hooper at No 7.

      The only way that Hooper can not run into Richie like this is if he continues to avoid early involvement at the breakdown as he has done for most of 2014. Too often he's 3rd or 4th to the breakdown or placing his hand on a shoulder or bum to grab the 'involvement' statistic.

      Hooper won't find Richie too often if Hooper continues to play like an extra Centre or Wing.

      This is the reason why Hodgson got 5 turnovers in the Force's two games against the Tahs in 2014 and Hooper got NIL. And 6 tries to Hoopers 2 for the season - most pulled from out of a pack when being up close and personal not from seagulling our wide.

      Wallabies will only beat the ABs if they can, at best, keep even with the ABs at the breakdown.

      Commenter
      AndrewWA
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      August 16, 2014, 10:46AM
      • Gobsmacked by the comments from Hooper re Richie McCaw:

        'Despite the anticipation of their head-to-head clash, Hooper said they might not cross paths outside of the coin toss before the game as much as many might hope.

        “Like with so many positions … you very rarely run into each other – maybe a couple of
        times a game, maybe at a breakdown here or there, a run or a tackle,” Hooper said.'

        UNBELIEVABLE!!! The reason why Hooper should not be the Wallaby No 7.

        Also the reason why in the two games against the Force in 2014 Hodgson got 5 turnovers against Hoopers NIL.

        Hodgson also scored 6 tries to Hooper's 2 with almost all of them pulled out of a pack while being up close and personal with the opposition.
        (Also remember the one from the loose ball get while running in support).

        In 2014 Hooper has too often been 3rd or 4th to the breakdown or just arriving in time to place his hand on someone's shoulder or bum so that he can grab an 'involvement' stat. Usually he's found seagulling as an extra Centre or Wing.

        I recognize that Richie may be past his best, but if the Wallabies can't at least break even with the ABs at the breakdown I fear that we're in for a long night!!!

        Commenter
        Force Fan
        Location
        Perth
        Date and time
        August 16, 2014, 11:04AM

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        Super Rugby 2016

        Round 1
        Fri, 26 FebTimes shown AEDT
        BLU 0vs HIG 0 17:35EP
        BRU 0vs HUR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
        CHT 0vs Jagu 0 04:00FSS
        Sunw 0vs LIO 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
        CRU 0vs CHF 0 17:35AMI
        WAR 0vs RED 0 19:40AS
        FOR 0vs REB 0 21:50nib Stadium
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        King 0vs SHA 0 00:00NMBS
        STO 0vs BUL 0 02:05DHL Newlands
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        Round 2
        Fri, 04 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CRU 0vs BLU 0 17:35AMI
        BRU 0vs WAR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CHF 0vs LIO 0 15:15FMG Stadium Waikato
        HIG 0vs HUR 0 17:35FBS
        RED 0vs FOR 0 19:40SS
        Sun, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BUL 0vs REB 0 00:00Loftu
        CHT 0vs STO 0 02:05FSS
        SHA 0vs Jagu 0 04:10GpKP
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        Round 3
        Fri, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BLU 0vs HUR 0 17:35EP
        FOR 0vs BRU 0 22:05nib Stadium
        Sat, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HIG 0vs LIO 0 17:35FBS
        REB 0vs RED 0 19:40AAMI
        Sunw 0vs CHT 0 21:50Singapore National Stadium
        Sun, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
        King 0vs CHF 0 00:00NMBS
        STO 0vs SHA 0 02:05DHL Newlands
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        Round 4
        Fri, 18 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HUR 0vs FOR 0 17:35Central Energy Trust Arena
        WAR 0vs HIG 0 19:40AS
        Sat, 19 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BUL 0vs SHA 0 04:00Loftu
        Sunw 0vs REB 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
        CRU 0vs King 0 17:35AMI
        RED 0vs BLU 0 19:40SS
        Sun, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
        LIO 0vs CHT 0 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
        STO 0vs BRU 0 04:10DHL Newlands
        Jagu 0vs CHF 0 09:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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        Round 5
        Fri, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HUR 0vs King 0 17:35WS
        Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CHF 0vs FOR 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
        REB 0vs HIG 0 19:40AAMI
        Sunw 0vs BUL 0 21:50Singapore National Stadium
        Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CHT 0vs BRU 0 00:00FSS
        SHA 0vs CRU 0 02:05GpKP
        Jagu 0vs STO 0 09:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
        RED 0vs WAR 0 16:05SS
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        Round 6
        Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
        HIG 0vs FOR 0 17:35FBS
        Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
        LIO 0vs CRU 0 04:00Emirates Airlines Park
        BLU 0vs Jagu 0 17:35QBE Stadium
        BRU 0vs CHF 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
        King 0vs Sunw 0 02:05NMBS
        BUL 0vs CHT 0 03:10Loftu
        WAR 0vs REB 0 16:05AS
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        Round 7
        Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
        CHF 0vs BLU 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
        FOR 0vs CRU 0 21:00nib Stadium
        Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
        STO 0vs Sunw 0 03:00DHL Newlands
        HUR 0vs Jagu 0 17:35WS
        RED 0vs HIG 0 19:40SS
        Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
        SHA 0vs LIO 0 01:05GpKP
        King 0vs BUL 0 03:10NMBS
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        Round 8
        Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
        CRU 0vs Jagu 0 17:35AMI
        REB 0vs HUR 0 19:40AAMI
        Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
        CHT 0vs Sunw 0 03:00FSS
        BLU 0vs SHA 0 17:35EP
        WAR 0vs BRU 0 19:40AS
        Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
        BUL 0vs RED 0 01:05Loftu
        LIO 0vs STO 0 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
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        Round 9
        Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
        HIG 0vs SHA 0 17:35FBS
        REB 0vs CHT 0 19:40AAMI
        Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
        Sunw 0vs Jagu 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
        HUR 0vs CHF 0 17:35WS
        FOR 0vs WAR 0 19:40nib Stadium
        STO 0vs RED 0 23:00DHL Newlands
        Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
        King 0vs LIO 0 01:05NMBS
        BRU 0vs CRU 0 16:05GIO Stadium
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        Round 10
        Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
        CHF 0vs SHA 0 17:35Yarro
        FOR 0vs BUL 0 21:05nib Stadium
        Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
        HIG 0vs BRU 0 15:15Rugby Park
        BLU 0vs REB 0 17:35EP
        RED 0vs CHT 0 19:40SS
        Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
        LIO 0vs HUR 0 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
        STO 0vs WAR 0 03:10DHL Newlands
        Jagu 0vs King 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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        Round 11
        Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
        CRU 0vs RED 0 17:35AMI
        BRU 0vs BUL 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
        Sunw 0vs FOR 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
        CHF 0vs HIG 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
        WAR 0vs CHT 0 19:40AS
        SHA 0vs HUR 0 23:00GpKP
        Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
        King 0vs BLU 0 01:05NMBS
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        Round 12
        Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
        HIG 0vs CRU 0 17:35FBS
        REB 0vs BRU 0 19:40AAMI
        Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
        HUR 0vs RED 0 17:35WS
        WAR 0vs BUL 0 19:40AS
        Sunw 0vs STO 0 21:45Singapore National Stadium
        Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
        CHT 0vs King 0 01:05FSS
        LIO 0vs BLU 0 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
        Jagu 0vs SHA 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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        Round 13
        Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
        CRU 0vs WAR 0 17:35AMI
        Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
        RED 0vs Sunw 0 15:05SS
        CHF 0vs REB 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
        FOR 0vs BLU 0 19:40nib Stadium
        LIO 0vs Jagu 0 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
        Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
        SHA 0vs King 0 01:05GpKP
        BUL 0vs STO 0 03:10Loftu
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        Round 14
        Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
        HUR 0vs HIG 0 17:35WS
        WAR 0vs CHF 0 19:40AS
        Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
        King 0vs Jagu 0 03:00NMBS
        BLU 0vs CRU 0 17:35EP
        BRU 0vs Sunw 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        STO 0vs CHT 0 23:00DHL Newlands
        Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
        BUL 0vs LIO 0 01:05Loftu
        REB 0vs FOR 0 16:05AAMI
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        Round 15
        Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
        CHF 0vs CRU 0 17:35ANZ National Stadium, Suva
        BRU 0vs RED 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
        Sunw 0vs WAR 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
        HUR 0vs BLU 0 17:35WS
        REB 0vs STO 0 19:40AAMI
        CHT 0vs FOR 0 23:00FSS
        Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
        LIO 0vs SHA 0 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
        King 0vs HIG 0 03:10NMBS
        Jagu 0vs BUL 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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        Round 16
        Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
        BLU 0vs BRU 0 17:35EP
        RED 0vs CHF 0 19:40SS
        Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
        LIO 0vs King 0 03:00Emirates Airlines Park
        CRU 0vs REB 0 17:35AMI
        WAR 0vs HUR 0 19:40AS
        FOR 0vs STO 0 21:45nib Stadium
        Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
        BUL 0vs Sunw 0 01:05Loftu
        SHA 0vs CHT 0 03:10GpKP
        Jagu 0vs HIG 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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        Round 17
        Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
        BLU 0vs WAR 0 17:35EP
        RED 0vs REB 0 19:40SS
        Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
        SHA 0vs Sunw 0 03:00GpKP
        CRU 0vs HUR 0 15:15AMI
        HIG 0vs CHF 0 17:35FBS
        BRU 0vs FOR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
        STO 0vs King 0 01:05DHL Newlands
        CHT 0vs BUL 0 03:10FSS
        Jagu 0vs LIO 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
        View All Fixtures
        Round 18
        Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
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        Super Rugby Semi Finals
        Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
        Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
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        Super Rugby Grand Final
        Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
        TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
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        Super Rugby 2016
        Overall standings
        Team P W L D +/- Pts
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        Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0 0
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        Super Rugby 2016
        Overall standings
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        Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0 0
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        Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Force 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Rebels 0 0 0 0 0 0
        Reds 0 0 0 0 0 0
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