Hooper admits Australia in 'dark' place after record loss

Sydney (AFP) –


Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper admitted Friday his team were in a "dark" place this week after being thrashed by the All Blacks, but insisted the scoreline didn't tell the full story.

New Zealand's 43-5 rout in Sydney last weekend was their highest winning margin against Australia and sealed the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup for an 18th straight year with a game to spare.

Hooper said the defeat was crushing for the team, coming on the back of a 27-7 loss in Auckland after a battling 16-16 draw in Wellington. The fourth and final game is in Brisbane on Saturday.

"It took us a while to get out of the hole to be fair," Hooper said.

"I know I can speak for myself that it was pretty dark, it's still a bit dark, letting that opportunity slip and particularly the performance we put out there.

"It wasn't up to the standard that we've set for ourselves."

Australia were outplayed in all departments in Sydney with the All Blacks physically too strong and again exposing the Wallabies' defensive wall.

Coach Dave Rennie has made a raft of changes for Saturday, with Reece Hodge, usually a wing or fullback, promoted to playmaker, Tom Banks in for Dane Haylett-Petty and Tom Wright taking over from Filipo Daugunu in the backs.

NSW Waratahs flanker Lachlan Swinton has been handed a debut, while veteran Rob Simmons has been brought in for the injured Lukhan Salakaia-Loto in a new-look pack.

"How do we prepare for this week, we'll obviously be... rectifying some of that stuff from last week and improving," said Hooper.

"There's only so long you can be dark for before moving on and start thinking about how you can start turning that stuff around.

"You've got to take the negatives, and some of the positives, from that game and start to move forward and that is what we had to do this week," he added.

Australia go into the game in Brisbane -- which doubles as a fixture in the Tri Nations, also including Argentina -- with a solid record at Suncorp Stadium, winning six Tests there in a row.

They have also won three of their last four against New Zealand in the Queensland capital, including a 23-18 win in their last meeting there in October 2017.

Hooper insisted the scoreline in Sydney didn't accurately reflect where the Wallabies were at, and he was confident for the future.

"I feel we're closer, absolutely," he said.

"New Zealand played really well, and we played poorly. Like in any game in sport, that happens. One team is going to look fantastic and they did, and credit to them.

"But we are much better. If we improve our stuff and put a lot more pressure on New Zealand, that will change. I think we saw that in the first game."