Michael Hooper believes the British & Irish Lions’ defeat to the Brumbies has given the Qantas Wallabies a boost ahead of Saturday’s first Test in Brisbane.
The Lions slipped to their maiden reverse of their tour so far in Canberra, with the Australian Conference Champions edging home 14-12 in the capital.
Hooper and his international colleagues watched that game at their Brisbane training camp and the 21-year-old says it has provided the Wallabies with a blueprint of how to tackle the tourists, particularly at the breakdown.
“That game proves the Lions are beatable. We beat them in 2001 in the Test series and we're taking a lot from that as well,” said Hooper, who is expected to start on the openside flank at the Suncorp Stadium.
“First and foremost, the Brumbies got the win and it's great for the boys down in Canberra.The Brumbies have put a bit of pressure on us but it's pressure we can handle.
"We can take a fair bit from the way the Brumbies won because we can assume the whole Lions squad will play in a similar way. I've got a lot of mates down in Canberra and I've spoken to them about the game. Thereare definite lessons for us from the way the Brumbies played at the breakdown.
“For me personally of course, the battle at openside is huge. Sam (Warburton, Lions captain) has not played too much rugby but when he's played he has done some good things. He puts a lot of pressure on the breakdown but he has a well-rounded game as a seven as well. The breakdown is definitely going to be the hotly contested area.”
As well as taking confidence from the manner in which the Brumbies won the battle of the breakdown on Tuesday, Hooper says his country’s recent record against Warren Gatland’s Wales will also stand them in good stead on Saturday.
The Lions’ opponents have won their last eight encounters against the Welsh, with six of those successes coming over the past 18 months.
Hooper expects a strong Welsh contingent to be involved for Britain and Ireland’s elite in the opening rubber and he hopes that familiarity will play into his side’s hands in the first of three mouth-watering match ups.
“It will be a different team on Saturday and we're expecting quite a large Welsh contingent. We have come across a lot of their players…that familiarity with the Welsh will benefit us,” added Hooper.
“We've had the luxury of playing them six times in the last year and a half and four times in 2012 and we’ve got the wins – that can’t hurt.”