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Michael Cheika: Picking both Michael Hooper and David Pocock a no-brainer

Published 22/09/2015

Australia head coach Michael Cheika, pictured, is relishing seeing Michael Hooper and David Pocock line up in Wednesday's World Cup opener against Fiji
Australia head coach Michael Cheika, pictured, is relishing seeing Michael Hooper and David Pocock line up in Wednesday's World Cup opener against Fiji

Australia head coach Michael Cheika says that rocket science was not required in his decision to start both of the Wallabies' brilliant openside flankers against World Cup opponents Fiji.

Michael Hooper and David Pocock will feature at the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday - Pocock wears the number eight shirt - when the Wallabies target an opening game victory in a pool that also includes host nation England and 2011 World Cup semi-finalists Wales.

"It's pretty hard not to pick one of them," Cheika said. "It sort of means you pick them both.

"I am not trying to claim there is any brilliant rocket science behind it. You just have two very good players.

"The way they've played throughout the Super Rugby season and in the rugby internationals, either together or separately, has forced the coach's hand - and that is exactly what you want from players."

And Fiji coach John McKee added: "We suspected Australia would go with Hooper and Pocock in the back-row.

"That was the combination that was so successful in the Bledisloe Cup game in Sydney (against New Zealand) just over a month ago, so they've gone with that again and it gives them good mobility in the back-row."

Australia will effectively knock Fiji out of the Pool A running if they inflict a second defeat on the South Sea Islanders just five days after being beaten by England.

And Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore is eager for World Cup action following a long preparation period in Bath, as he prepares to lead a team that also includes world stars like Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Matt Giteau.

"We've been training really hard for a number of weeks, and there has been big competition for a number of spots," Moore said.

"Every team has been competitive in this tournament. Everyone is talking about the Japan result (against South Africa), but Uruguay and Argentina have been really impressive and it shows just how much preparation has been put into this tournament.

"The combination of that, and sitting around watching footy all weekend, they (Australia players) are pretty keen to get out there now.

"We will be blowing pretty hard in that first-half, but we've trained as close as we can to game intensity."

Fiji will be without suspended back-row forward Dominiko Waqaniburotu after he was cited for a dangerous tackle on England wing Jonny May last Friday, and McKee is under no illusions of how big a test Australia pose.

"Twickenham was a massive challenge for us take on (for the England match) with it being their home ground and doubling up as the opening game and ceremony," he said.

"But our first game is behind us now, and although we have another massive game coming up, we won't have those first game jitters.

"The boys are well aware of the pressures around the game, but I don't think those pressures will match the pressure of playing England at Twickenham in the opening game."

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