Wallabies can take heart from Waratahs' journey: Hooper
ESPN Staff
December 3, 2014
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Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has pointed to NSW Waratahs' road to Super Rugby glory as Australia attempt to find some positives from a disappointing spring tour.

Hooper and the Wallabies returned home from Europe on Tuesday following their worst November campaign since 2005, with three straight losses coming after opening victories over the Barbarians and Wales. But Hooper is anything but doom and gloom, and believes there are some stark similarities between the Wallabies under Michael Cheika - who replaced Ewen McKenzie after Bledisloe III - and the Waratahs whom Cheika guided to the Super Rugby title in just his second season in charge.

"[At Twickenham], we scored two of the easiest tries we scored on the whole trip but then we struggled to put points at other times," Hooper told News Corp. "Definitely there is a lot of similarity between us and the Waratah group from that first year. Some days we would turn up and things would just click, and the next day everyone is out of shape and you're not finding it right. It's just about guys getting confident in that system, and believing in it, which did start to happen on that trip. It's just hard when you're thrown in the cauldron of those really tough Tests over there, where we had set-piece problems."

The Wallabies showed glimpses of the free-flowing style Cheika hopes to play, scoring two fines tries after the break against England through Bernard Foley and replacement lock Will Skelton. But they were overcome by a ferocious England pack, who dominated the set-piece and rolled upfield via a powerful maul while their halves also made territorial gains through smart tactical kicking.

England 26-17 Australia (Australia only)

Still, Hooper - who on Monday received support from Cheika to continue as Wallabies captain next year - believes his side are on the right track and can fine-tune their game plan before Rugby World Cup 2015. And scrum anchor Sekope Kepu, a Waratahs team-mate, said "there is a lot of hard work we still have to get through, but we've definitely done plenty over the last five weeks."

"I have been a part of what [Cheika] did at the Tahs, and it's the same philosophy in what he's bringing into the Wallabies," Kepu told News Corp. It is just a pity there was only five weeks. It's a credit to the guys from other provinces and Cheika how quickly they've picked up the way he wants to play. We are heading in the right direction, that's for sure."

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