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Hooper picks himself up again, puts faith in super Swinton

Teammate Harry Wilson joked on Thursday it was nice to have Swinton on his side during training, while coach Dave Rennie has also talked about how the Sydney University product sometimes needed to dial his aggression back a little.

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Hooper has lined up alongside Swinton for the best part of two years now for NSW and assures he’s actually a good bloke despite his angry on-field persona.

“Probably something you don’t see through the aggression on the field … is he’s a really great guy around the team, doing his thing for his teammates,” Hooper said.

“He’s very green. He’s a growing player but one with huge potential and something potentially that New Zealand haven’t seen before in a Wallaby jersey.

“Lachie has got a history of being very physical.”

Try telling Swinton, or any Wallabies player for that matter, that this fixture at Suncorp Stadium is a dead rubber.

A win will appease some sections of the Australian rugby public but the manner of the loss at ANZ Stadium made for difficult viewing, and won’t be forgotten for some time.

Lachie Swinton will make his Wallabies debut on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium.

Lachie Swinton will make his Wallabies debut on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium.Credit:Stuart Walmsley/Rugby Australia

Even Hooper, a usually unflappable character who has been through his fair share of tough defeats in eight years of Test rugby, said the latest loss really rocked him.

“It took us a while to get out of the hole to be fair … you’re still a bit dark around letting that opportunity slip,” Hooper said.

“It’s going to be one you think about after the career, about a missed opportunity. We put a lot into that. There’s only so long you can be dark before you’ve got to move on and start thinking about how you can turn that stuff around.”

The 38-point loss was Australia’s third heaviest defeat at Test level, behind the 53-8 defeatto South Africa in 2008 and a 61-22 carve up by the Springboks in 1997.

Was that a fair reflection though of where the Wallabies are really at? Are they that bad? Hooper thinks not.

“I feel we’re closer, absolutely. No question in my mind,” Hooper said. “We haven’t been able to notch up a ‘W’ and it’s a reward that I think this team deserves for the hard work and attitude and the application they have all put in. We’re as keen as ever. We can’t wait to fly up.”

Australia will land in Brisbane on Saturday knowing very well Suncorp Stadium has been a happy hunting ground.

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The Wallabies have won six straight at the venue since 2016 and lost just one of their last four outings to New Zealand at the ground.

It’s a record Cane says his team is “not proud of”, which could be of real concern to a Wallabies side desperate to salvage some pride.

“There’s no point hiding from the fact we haven’t been the sharpest there,” Cane said. “They’ve always been a side that plays well with their backs against the wall and you could say that’s where they are at the moment.”

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