Michael Hooper during a training session in Bath.
Michael Hooper during a training session in Bath. Dan Mullan, Getty Images

Wallabies side promises double trouble for Fiji

WALLABIES coach Michael Cheika has a simple theory behind picking two specialist open-side flankers for his team's World Cup opener against Fiji tomorrow morning (AEST).

"It's pretty hard not to pick one of them," Cheika said of naming both Michael Hooper and David Pocock in the team, with Brumbies star Pocock to line up at No.8.

"I'm not trying to claim there's any brilliant rocket science behind it," he added.

"You've just got two very good players and the way they've played throughout the Super Rugby season and in the international season either together or separately has forced the coach's hands."

The pair was in devastating touch against the All Blacks in Australia's 27-19 win in Sydney last month. Wycliff Palu then replaced Pocock at No.8 for the Eden Park Bledisloe Cup decider, which the Wallabies lost 41-13.

Pocock said he was looking forward to combining with Hooper once more.

"I'm very excited about the opportunities I have to play alongside Michael," he said. "In the Rugby Championship, I really enjoyed it, so hopefully we can make that partnership work."

Australia's line-out suffered in the absence of Reds lock Rob Simmons through the second half of the Rugby Championship, the tall Queenslander out with a wrist injury. But he returned for the 47-10 win over the USA and will team up with future Reds teammate Kane Douglas against Fiji.

"We've trained with these combinations for a while now, so we're prepared for the way we need to play and I don't think it will really make too much of an impact (on my game)," Simmons said.

Fiji is renowned for playing an entertaining brand of rugby, but the Wallabies will also look to be expansive in attack whenever an opportunity presents itself.

"Our intent is to be an attacking side. It's part of our identity and we definitely want to use every opportunity we play for Australia to show that and the World Cup is no different," Cheika said. "We're not going to change our ways because we're playing in a World Cup."

Given there will only be a four-day turnaround for Australia's following game against Uruguay, gifted playmaker Quade Cooper could come in for Bernard Foley in that clash.




Tomorrow: Cardiff, 1.45am

Also: Tonight: Scotland v Japan 11.30pm. Tomorrow: France v Romania 5am.

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