Australian Wallabies captain Michael Hooper runs during a training session at Robina Stadium on the Gold Coast, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. The Wallabies play the Argentina Pumas in a Rugby Championship Test Saturday night.
Australian Wallabies captain Michael Hooper runs during a training session at Robina Stadium on the Gold Coast, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. The Wallabies play the Argentina Pumas in a Rugby Championship Test Saturday night. AAP Image - Dave Hunt

Hooper says scrum crucial to Wallabies tonight

WALLABIES captain Michael Hooper says his team has been pumping the scrum machines in preparation for Argentina's world-class scrum in tonight's Rugby Championship clash at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.

The front three of Ramiro Herrera, captain Agustin Creevy and Marcos Ayerza weigh a combined 340kg and much of Los Pumas' play will centre around them.

It was an area the visitors pressured the physical South Africans in during two narrow losses last month.

"At training this week it's revolved around that (the scrum) heavily for our front-rowers," Hooper said.

"We understand that if we can get the upper hand there, it goes a long way towards shutting down a lot of their game, which is their scrum.

"They'll hold the ball for long amounts of time, so we've got to be up for that."

Hooper said the Pumas were a difficult team to face all around the park.

"They're a real unique team to play. We're expecting them to throw the ball around and come up with some offloads," he said.

"They're good around the ruck with their forwards.

"They'll come at us at a lot of different angles and one-out, which is unique, so it's going to be exciting to play a different style of team."

With his no-nonsense approach, Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau's return from a knee injury is crucial to the Australians matching the up-front physicality of the Pumas.

"He's an absolute rock for us in the middle of the scrum," Hooper said.

"Chibba (James Hanson) did a great job for us last week, but it'll be nice to play with Taf in his 50th Test.

"He'll definitely be up for it."

Hooper, one of the game's premier flankers, is also expecting his work to be cut out against a high-quality back row.

"Lobe (opposing openside flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobe) is a class player - he gets through a ton of hard work, and so does (Juan Manuel) Leguizamon," Hooper said.

Australia is third in the Rugby Championship on six points, with South Africa (nine) and New Zealand (12) ahead.

But if the Springboks upset the All Blacks in Wellington tonight, and the Wallabies win with a bonus point, they will come back into championship reckoning.


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