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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 2015

        Round 1
        Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
        CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
        BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
        Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
        LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Stats
        BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
        Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
        SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
        BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
        WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 2
        Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
        CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
        REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
        Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
        BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
        HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
        RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
        Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
        STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
        SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 3
        Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
        HIG 20 vs RED 13 Stats
        FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
        Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
        CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Stats
        CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
        REB 15 vs BRU 20 Stats
        Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Stats
        LIO 19 vs STO 22 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 4
        Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CHF vs HIG 17:35WS
        BRU vs FOR 19:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
        RED vs WAR 19:40SS
        Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
        STO vs SHA 04:10DHL Newlands
        View All Fixtures
        Round 5
        Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
        FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
        Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
        HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
        RED vs BRU 19:40SS
        Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
        STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
        CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
        View All Fixtures
        Round 6
        Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
        REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
        Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
        Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BUL vs FOR 02:05Loftus Versfeld
        SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
        WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
        View All Fixtures
        Round 7
        Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HUR vs REB 17:35WS
        RED vs LIO 20:00SS
        Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
        HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
        WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
        Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
        SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
        BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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        Round 8
        Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
        HUR vs STO 18:35WS
        REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
        Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
        CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
        BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
        Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
        SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
        LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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        Round 9
        Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
        BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
        Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
        CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
        WAR vs STO 20:40AS
        FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
        Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
        BUL vs RED 00:00Loftus Versfeld
        LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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        Round 10
        Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
        CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
        Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
        HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
        HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
        BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
        FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
        Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
        SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
        CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
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        Round 11
        Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
        CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
        BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
        CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
        WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
        Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
        LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
        STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
        RED vs HUR 17:05SS
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        Round 12
        Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
        HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
        BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
        BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
        HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
        REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
        Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
        CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
        BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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        Round 13
        Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
        CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
        REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
        Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
        HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
        FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
        Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
        LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
        STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
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        Round 14
        Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
        BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
        RED vs REB 20:40SS
        Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
        HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
        WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
        Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
        LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
        CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
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        Round 15
        Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
        CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
        RED vs SHA 20:40SS
        Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
        BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
        WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
        FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
        Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
        CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
        STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
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        Round 16
        Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
        CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
        BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
        Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
        SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
        HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
        FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
        Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
        STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
        LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
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        Round 17
        Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
        HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
        FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
        Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
        REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
        BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
        RED vs CHF 20:40SS
        Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
        CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
        STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
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        Round 18
        Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
        BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
        REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
        Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
        BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
        CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
        WAR vs RED 20:40AS
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        BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
        SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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        Round 19
        Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
        7 vs 7 10:00
        Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
        7 vs 7 10:00
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        Round 20
        Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
        7 vs 7 10:00
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        7 vs 7 10:00
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        Round 21
        Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
        7 vs 7 10:00
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