sport

Hooper: Dad cheers for Wallabies

Michael Hooper insists his family will be united in their support of Australia in Saturday's showdown with England at Twickenham.

Hooper will continue at openside in the ongoing absence of David Pocock, the outstanding Wallaby skipper who has been ruled out of the Cook Cup clash by a calf injury.

It will be the first time Hooper has played against England, the country of birth of his father David, who departed the UK when he was 24.

Now a naturalised Australian, David's allegiance has shifted Down Under.

"My dad cheers for the Wallabies, I don't think he'd be allowed in the house if he didn't!" he said.

"He will be at Twickenham. My grandparents will be there and my dad's brother is still English so I'm not sure what flag they'll be waving on Saturday, hopefully Australian.

"My dad's bigger than me, so I got the wrong genes there. He loves rugby and enjoys watching Australia play."

A former back row for Blackheath, Hooper's father has proved a useful sounding board for the highly-regarded 21-year-old.

"He's probably my biggest critic and gives great advice. He'll always give me an honest account of how I played and what I should work on," he said.

"There's a good mutual agreement in place - he won't hold back on how I played which is a good thing to have.

"He tries to get to most games and is bit of a sucker for it."

Pocock's absence is a significant setback to Australia despite Hooper proving a capable - if inexperienced - deputy.

The influential back row has been troubled by a knee ligament damage throughout the season but was expected to return against England after missing Saturday's 33-6 mauling by France.

That plan was ruined by a calf strain and the Wallabies must continue without their brilliant 2010 and 2011 IRB international player of the year nominee.

Hooper, a fetcher in a similar mould to Pocock, has impressed while filling the void and will win his 11th cap on Saturday.

"This year I just wanted to get a starting spot for (Super 15 club) the Brumbies, so it's funny how things turn out. It's been awesome for me," he said.

"You want to play as much as possible and become a consistent starter. I've had the opportunity to do that.

"David will be back soon and that's a good problem for the team to have.

"He's a great player and that pushes all of the opensides in the squad to improve."

Australia may have finished runners-up in the recent Rugby Championship, but there will be few better times for England to face them.

Ravaged by injury and struggling for form - they have failed to score a try in 177 minutes of rugby - Stuart Lancaster's side will sense a superb opportunity to claim a prized scalp.

"We're going to really bring it and are excited about this game. It should be a great game," Hooper said.

"It's all about this weekend and making history. It's a great rivalry between England and Australia and Twickenham is a great stadium.

"Their tails will be up after getting so many points on the board against Fiji.

"There were 80,000 yelling at us in Paris last weekend and it was a great atmosphere.

"This weekend will be no different, so it was good to get that new experience out of the way."