Ahead of his 104th Test – which the Wallabies must win to stay in the hunt for the Tri Nations trophy – Hooper reflected on his return to Newcastle.
“That time of my life was completely different,” Hooper said. “It’s weird your debut night. It goes so quick. It’s over in a flash. I was on the field for all of nine or 10 minutes, in some of the worst conditions you will ever play in. And a loss. You don’t know what to feel in that situation.
“And I’ve always been saying – a few guys are probably sick of hearing me say this – but you just move forward. You have to just focus on the next week.
“I remember at the time – we played that game on a Tuesday night and then we had a three-game series against Wales – there’s no time to really reflect or think, ‘How good, a debut’. We had another game in Brisbane in a couple of days against the Welsh. The Test rugby world moves so quick.”
Argentina would agree with Hooper’s sentiment.
This time last week, you would have had to search far and wide to find a single person brave enough to tip the Pumas to beat the All Blacks.
Seven days after doing exactly that, Mario Ledesma’s men will face an Australian side well aware they must stop the Pumas to put themselves in the box seat for their first piece of significant silverware since 2015.
“Where we want to go is on us,” Hooper said. “We want to grow as a team and be a consistent team. With that, we make no bones that we want to put some silverware in our closet again.
“To do that, we need to build on solid performances.
“Dave talks a lot about respect being earned every day. That’s reflected in our training and that’s the focus for us. To talk about that day by day and what that builds is good outcomes, good results and it keeps you moving forward at a consistent rate.
“That’s been our focus and you have to talk about the end goal, which is holding up some silverware, in order to get the appropriate training during the week and appropriate training day to day.”
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.