Wallabies captain Michael Hooper buoyed by Super results but wary of England dominance

As the Wallabies edge towards their 2022 Test season, captain Michael Hooper says he's been buoyed by Australia's trans-Tasman results during Super Rugby Pacific in recent weeks but also remains grounded ahead of the England series in July.

Three weeks into the trans-Tasman portion of Super Rugby Pacific, Australia's cohort has already enjoyed more success against New Zealand teams than it did across 25 games in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman last year. The Brumbies lead the Aussie charge, defeating the Highlanders, Hurricanes and Chiefs in recent weeks, while the Waratahs shocked championship favourites the Crusaders before they scored their first win on New Zealand soil in seven years when they defeated Moana Pasifika last weekend.

The change in fortunes for Australia's Super sides has Hooper excited as they prepare for a big 16 months, culminating in next year's World Cup.

"Absolutely yeah [it's encouraging], it's just a bit of a different narrative for us at the moment," Hooper said as Wallabies new playing strip was unveiled in Sydney. "It's been great to see individuals playing really well and then teams finding some form and showing their identity on the field.

"I've been really impressed with the Brumbies, obviously they're the stand out with what they've been doing, so they're sort of leading the way at the moment and we're [Waratahs] growing from strength to strength.

"We've got some really good challenges coming up in the next couple of weeks; two home games, one away, and all against tough opposition. We're in a really neat place at the moment."

Noting that many teams feature less experience and less Test caps than they have done previously, Hooper believes there's been a real hunger and desperation from young players to make a mark on the competition.

"We're probably less experienced in terms of caps and things than we have been in Super, but it certainly doesn't show in terms of how we're playing and the hunger that guys are showing," the Wallabies captain said.

"To get some really consistent performances is really nice and that's a nice narrative to be a part of, just seeing other teams win and a general feel that it's great to see those teams win. I've definitely been in camps where you death ride teams a bit, and particularly Aussie counterparts, not wanting to see them do well, but I think that's definitely changed for me, so really pleased for some of the teams doing really well at the moment.

"There's certainly a hunger about what the teams are wanting to do and desperation in terms of how they're playing. There's a hunger to change that story, be a part of a new sort of feel and that's a real big motivating factor for a lot of those players, to change and shift that narrative. That's been noticed."

With just weeks left of Super Rugby Pacific, attention is starting to shift towards the upcoming England series and its importance ahead of next year's World Cup in France. Having lost all eight matches to England since their 2015 Rugby World Cup pool match, the Wallabies are desperate to flip the script on their rivalry with England and to avenge their 2016 series sweep in the process.

"Certainly [there's hunger]. It's a great series, it doesn't feel like that long ago, playing in 2016 when they came out here last time, but a lot has happened since then," Hooper said.

"England are very good at the moment, they're a very good team and they have been for a long time, so winning the series will be important, but against these guys who are really quality at the moment, it can set up your year and the months into the World Cup."

Asked where he believed the Wallabies were placed heading into the series, the flanker said fans and critics would have to wait to find out.

"A really easy way to answer this is in two months' time we can tell you. We don't know where we stand. They got the better of us last year in Twickenham, but we get to play them at three home grounds, places that we've had great success before."

As Rugby Australia prepares to be announced host for the 2027 and 2029 Rugby World Cups on Thursday night, Hooper was on hand to launch the Wallabies 2022 jerseys with local primary school students. While he's ruled himself out of a 2027 appearance, he knows the significance a home World Cup will have on future Wallabies and Wallaroos.

"What an opportunity for young players in rugby in Australia for men and women with both the announcements coming up for 2027 and 2029.

"In terms of a runway for a young player, or even a kid that's at school at the moment, you're looking at the Lions in '25 with an Olympics in there as well, then the '27 and '29 World Cups and then a home Olympics which [sevens] rugby is all a part of now. What a time to be a part of rugby.

"It's really exciting for someone who's probably going to be on the other side of it then, but even more so for some of our younger guys who could be a part of a great era or chapter of Australian rugby."