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England vs Australia: Michael Hooper is deadly…England must be on red alert

There is one message that I always pass on to my players when we come across Australia: stop Michael Hooper.

From five yards from your try line, the flanker is one of the most dangerous players in the world. With his short build and big strong legs, he is so good at scoring pick-and-go attempts.

England will have to be on red alert when near the ball. Usually we put a vest on a player in training to replicate him. You have to be low in the tackle.

England must stop Australian captain Michael Hooper if they want to triumph in the Test series

England must stop Australian captain Michael Hooper if they want to triumph in the Test series

What you don’t want is for it to charge at your pack near your try line. You want to see your best attackers marking him. Guys like Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.

If Hooper carries high, you can try to get him over your own try-line to earn a lunge on the goal line, but he rarely carries high. You just need to add five percent aggression to your tackle, because the man is an absolute warrior.

Australian teams tend to be well coached, with plenty of creative nine and ten runners, but Hooper is as much of a threat as anyone. We went on tour with France to Australia last summer and we tried to avoid his chances by joining the bad luck.

Hooper is Australia's dangerous man and England will have to be on red alert against him

Hooper is Australia’s dangerous man and England will have to be on red alert against him

He scored twice in three Tests. You have to fight at the right time, only if the primary tackler has moved quickly out of the way.

One thing that struck me on that tour was how Australia has reduced the amount of risks they take. England have in the past taken great pleasure in interceptions or choking the Wallabies when they consistently try to run the ball out of their own half.

Lately they have become much more disciplined and seem to realize that the defense is much better at international level. If you make a turnover on your own half, or have good grades, then you have to play 100 percent. But when the defense is all set, it’s usually a better option to move the ball to the opponent’s half.

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England are smart in the way they attack from kicks. They usually attack from the second kick return because by this time the defense is not set up so there is room to run. I would love to see Danny Care start in the No. 9 jersey as he is such a constant threat.

I have followed his career since he moved from Leeds as a child. It takes some guts to move to London as a teenager. He’s won three Six Nations — 2011, 2016 and 2017 — and I’ve always been a great admirer of his. I would have loved to coach Danny so it was a shame when he withdrew from the Barbarians a few weeks ago, but it has worked out for him.

Danny Care should start in the No 9 jersey for England as he is such a constant threat

Danny Care should start in the No 9 jersey for England as he is such a constant threat

It’s great that at the age of 35 someone gets another chance. You want to pick the best player and for me Danny would be 23 at this point in a British and Irish Lions match day with Jamison Gibson-Park.

He has been a nightmare to coach against over the years and that is the biggest compliment I can give him.

Everyone knows his quick taps, supporting play and attacking kicks. All scrum halves need a precise box kick to get out of their own half, but Danny has so many different types of kicks. If you look at his show reel from the past few years when he played for Harlequins, many of those kicks have led to attempts.

Care takes risks, but he's a cashier and an entertainer - it's great to see him again

Care takes risks, but he’s a cashier and an entertainer – it’s great to see him again

He’s the kind of player who doesn’t mind taking a risk. As a defensive coach you try to imagine what an opponent will do to you and with Danny it’s hard.

He’s been playing the game for so long now that he doesn’t think too much and makes split-second decisions. You never know what he’s going to do next. That’s hard to deal with. It’s checkout.

He’s an entertainer and it’s great to see him back in the England squad with Billy Vunipola. They are both proven winners for club and country.

Billy has the skills to play in the back!

My appreciation for Vunipola goes way back. He was a few years above my son at Harrow School and I remember seeing him in a children’s sevens tournament.

In sevens, the man who scores must kick the drop goal. I watched this big boy nail it from the sidelines and then turn around laughing. His physical attributes were obvious, but his incredible abilities stood out.

Billy Vunipola is another on the England side who can do real damage to other teams

Billy Vunipola is another on the England side who can do real damage to other teams


First test: Saturday, Optus Stadium, Perth.

Second test: July 9 Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

Third Trial: July 16, Sydney Cricket Ground.

All kicks off at 10:55am and LIVE on Sky Sports.

Not long after, he signed for Wasps. It was clear he was going to be good and now he is an English legend. His power play is right there, but it’s still that skill level that stands out to me. You could put him in the centers and he would have no problem with the treatment.

He’s had injury issues, but when you play as hard as he does, you rarely get through your career without it. There is so much yelling and big clashes. The free time, as well as the Saracen saga, may have reminded him how much he loves rugby.

I would love to see Danny and Billy start this weekend. They both won in Australia and you need confident players against the Wallabies. The Australian media tries to belittle your achievements and talk you down. England’s eight-game run against Australia is one of Eddie Jones’ greatest achievements and Danny and Billy could help keep that run going a little longer.

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Unfortunately I still have Covid so I’m stuck in my hotel room in Paris while France is in Japan. I’ve had plenty of time to analyze the Japanese team and there’s been a lot of Skype conversations with the other coaches out there.

Eddie Jones will hope to continue England's recent form against Australia in the series

Eddie Jones will hope to continue England’s recent form against Australia in the series

If I am still here this weekend I will see my old team Wales take on South Africa in Pretoria.

It will be the ultimate challenge against the world champions at height. The South African clubs have played very well, but if Wales are playing at the level they played against France in the Six Nations and taking on the massive scrum challenge they have a chance.

It will also be great to see George North get his hands on the ball after his long spell on the sidelines.

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