Hooper admits Cooper key to Wallabies' success

Townsville (Australia) (AFP) –


Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper admitted Friday Quade Cooper had been key to their success since his surprise return to the fold, praising the veteran playmaker for his on-field leadership.

The seasoned fly-half was sensationally recalled earlier this month after four years in the international wilderness, having played the last of his 70 Tests against Italy in mid-2017.

It followed two demoralising losses to the All Blacks, and Cooper proved instrumental in Australia's 28-26 upset of world champions South Africa on his return.

He again led from the front when they beat the Springboks a second time last week.

Hooper said the 33-year-old's experience had been key among his relatively young Wallabies squad.

"Quade's certainly been great in terms of his leadership around the on-field control of the game. I think what's been noticeable there is, you know, it's time in the saddle," he said ahead of their Rugby Championship clash with Argentina on Saturday.

"So often I think a 10, all these guys have skill, but just it's a time thing.

"He's watched a lot of tape -- you can imagine the hours of tape he's watched compared to you know a second or third-year 10 -- so time in the saddle is huge and experience in that role.

"When you're going into a game you're just trying to confirm it on the weekend as opposed to trying to work it out on the spot. So that's what he's really brought.

"And he's been imparting that on some of the other guys, which is super valuable," he added.

Cooper will start his third Test in a row on Saturday in Townsville in northern Queensland as Australia look to build on those two wins when they meet Argentina.

Los Pumas head into the game after losing four-in-a-row, but despite Australia's confidence being sky-high, Hooper is wary after Mario Ledesma's side forced two draws against the Wallabies last year.

"Any Test match can go either way and I think it's great about the state of rugby in the world that it's game on every time," he said.

"Argentina pose very different threats (to South Africa and New Zealand), but no less dangerous. When they're on, they're a hard team and we saw that last year.

"In the games they've played, even though the score might not suggest it, they made the All Blacks work, they made it difficult for them at times. We've got to be on our game tomorrow.

"They're capable of some exciting rugby, their ability to move the team and they have some great athletes. They can hurt you if you're sloppy."