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Michael Hooper is tackled by Nicolas Sanchez of Argentina. The pair clash on Saturday for the Tri-Nations top of the table spot. Photo: EPA

Australia vs Argentina: Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper eyes top of Tri-Nations table at ground he made his international debut

  • Australia skipper returns to the ground where he made his international debut in a shock loss to Scotland
  • A win against the South Americans would put his side in pole position for the Tri-Nations title ahead of All Blacks

More than 100 tests later, Australia captain Michael Hooper will return to the scene of his whirlwind debut on Saturday when the Wallabies host Argentina in Newcastle, New South Wales.

The durable flanker featured for only about 10 minutes in his first match in 2012, which was played in some of the most wretched conditions seen in test rugby as the Wallabies suffered a shock 9-6 loss to Scotland.

Former Australia captain David Pocock ended up needing treatment for hypothermia after battling through the cyclonic wind and sheets of rain, and test rugby never returned to the port city until this week.

“It’s weird your debut night, because it goes so quick, it’s over in a flash,” Hooper told reporters on Friday.

Australia‘s Michael Hooper scores against Argentina. Photo: AP

“I was on the field for all of nine or 10 minutes in some of the worst conditions I’ve ever played in – and the loss.”

The Wallabies have gone through two World Cup cycles and a slew of coaches since but Hooper has remained a constant, indefatigable presence in Australia’s back row.

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The 29-year-old has savoured plenty of highlights through his career but hoisting a big trophy as captain is not among them.

The last time Australia won a major title was the truncated 2015 Rugby Championship before the World Cup in England, with then-captain Stephen Moore holding the trophy aloft with former coach Michael Cheika.

Cheika is now a coaching consultant for Argentina, whose stunning 25-15 win over the All Blacks last week blew the Tri-Nations right open.

A win on Saturday will put the Dave Rennie-coached Wallabies top of the table and Hooper within tantalising reach of an elusive piece of silverware.

“We make no bones, we want to put some silverware in our closet again,” he said. “We’re clear on what we’re trying to achieve and the pressure is on us to want to be able to do that.”