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Boks out to spoil Hooper's party

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Springboks will be out to spoil Wallabies captain Micheal Hooper’s party when the two teams meet this Saturday.


Hooper will be celebrating a big milestone when he becomes Australia’s most-capped Wallabies captain in Saturday’s Rugby Championship Round Four match against South Africa in Brisbane.

The feat will see Hooper surpasses George Gregan for the most Tests as Wallabies captain – when he leads the side out for the 60th time.

The 29-year-old first captained Australia as a 22-year-old in 2014, making Hooper the third youngest Wallabies leader of all time.

However, coming off the back of a 26-28 defeat to the Wallabies, World Champions Springboks will be out to put a dampener on the Hooper parade.

One man who will have the responsibility of curbing Hooper’s impact is Springboks flank, Albertus  ‘Kwagga’ Smith.

The former BlitzBok star, who has been named on the bench for this Saturday’s clash, had huge praise for Hooper.


However, he said the Boks are focused on their own systems.

“I love to play against Michael Hooper. I’ve played against him in Super Rugby and now at Test level,” Smith told reporters in a virtual media briefing.

“He is a good player. He has a lot of Test caps. He is a player that can go 80 minutes every game and he has done it before in Super Rugby.

“It is great playing against a guy like that, because you know he is going to be at his best and you have to be at your best.


“It is never going to be easy [against him], but for us, it is just to focus on our systems and not focused on individuals.”

Hooper, along with Lachlan Swinton and No.8 Rob Valetini, and replacement Pete Samu caused loads of problems for Springboks at the breakdown.

Smith, who replaced Duane Vermeulen in the 53rd minute,  said the Boks worked very hard to rectify this area and they want to limit the Wallabies’ impact at the rucks.

“We analyzed them ahead of the match and we had a look at how they play and the stuff they do off the ball to manipulate the defence.

“For us, we knew it was coming and we did not stop the momentum as we should’ve and then gave them front foot ball and that is why they attack so well,” Smith said.

“That was a big work on for us this week. We worked on our defence and stop momentum and I think it is important for us as a defensive team.”

He added: “As a replacement, our job is to bring energy to the team.

“The players, especially the forwards, need to feed off our energy so for us it is about getting on the pitch and making an impact.

“We have a lot of snatchers [like Marco van Standen, Malcolm Marx and Jasper Wiese] on the bench and for us it is about making an impact, winning turnovers and help to launch attacks.

“I think it is also about that extra one or two seconds at the rucks, which give the defence time to set and it makes a difference.”


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