Wallabies will be just as motivated against England without grand slam on the table: Michael Hooper

Seeking vengeance: Michael Hooper is very excited for a chance to beat England on their home soil after the June whitewash in Australia. Photo: Dan MullanLondon: Wallabies vice-captain Michael Hooper says Australia will play with the same enthusiasm as if a grand slam was still on the line when they seek revenge against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

A 27-24 loss in Dublin ended Australia’s hopes of a setting up a grand slam-decider at the home of English rugby but the Test is the furthest thing from a dead rubber given what occurred in June.

Last month at the John Eales Medal in Sydney, Hooper, with a smile on his face, said he already knew the date of the England match – December 3.

For Hooper, a three-nil June series whitewash is vivid in the memory and he says there is more than enough to play for despite what happened against the Irish.

“We’ll take this game just as hard as we would’ve had there been a grand slam on the line,” Hooper said. “Every Test match is massive for us. We want to play the best we possibly can in this jersey and do better than we did [on Saturday].

“Every Test is hugely important, especially such a fun one to play in and such a big occasion to play in. It’d be really nice, for us as a group, to have a really good performance.

“We’re a completely different side [to June]. [There are] 13 new caps from the start of this year. Finishing on a high is going to be huge for us. It’s like coming full circle from playing them at the start of the year to seeing where we are now. We’re excited to put our best men up against them.”

Coach Michael Cheika has drilled the phrase “resetting to zero” into players all tour.

Such a mantra has prevented any player speculating about what it would be like to complete the grand slam but now the dream is over, thanks to a remarkably disciplined display from the Irish, the disappointment from those involved has bubbled to the surface.

“It [a grand slam] was a goal of ours,” Hooper said. “It was a goal to work week-to-week, however, it would’ve been really nice to claim that title at the end. So that’s gone, but we have to review the game first and see where we could’ve done a lot better.

“They got out really hard which put us under the pump straight away. We felt like at half-time we hadn’t had any opportunity to attack, which was probably the case. I thought the guys came back really well but to get pipped like that at the end was really tough to take.”

Australia conceded 13 penalties at Aviva Stadium and while Cheika believes that was down to inconsistent refereeing more than anything else, such a disparity in discipline cannot be repeated against England.

“It’s never a plan of ours to go into a game and be pinged that much,” Hooper said. “It’s annoying we come out of the game with stats like that and it’s disappointing because that’s not how we go into the game playing.”

If the Wallabies had completed the grand slam it would have ended their year on an extreme high, juxtaposed to some equally bad lows, notably against the All Blacks.

Australia cannot finish 2016 with more wins than losses but victory in the final game of the year would at least give them the potential to help their image back home.

“I’ve been really proud of how we’ve taken to different teams this year,” Hooper said. “We’ve had those ups and downs and consistency has been lacking, but what’s been the wrap up of the year is that when we do our stuff really well we can beat any team in the world. It’s just about doing it more often and sticking to that sort of stuff.”

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