WARATAHS skipper Michael Hooper has called on Will Skelton to dominate the forwards battle in Friday's showdown against the Hurricanes, as the Kiwi press labelled the giant lock a "chump".
Skelton must be the man to stand up for NSW if they are to become the first Australian side to beat a Kiwi team in 2017, and he now has added motivation after being savaged by a Kiwi newspaper.
NSW's past two victories in New Zealand, against the Chiefs in 2014 and Hurricanes in 2015, were notable for the astounding physical aggression of forwards Wycliff Palu, Dave Dennis and Jacques Potgieter, and Hooper wants Skelton to be that man in Wellington.
"I want his involvements, each one, to have an impact on the game," Hooper said.
"He is such a big guy, and I know to move that body around is hard and taxing.
"So for every time he gets an involvement or opportunity to make a difference would be a good one.
"That's the improvement for Will.
"We've seen over the years some of the big involvements he can have, for him knowing he's playing 50, 60 minutes, maximising the amount of positive involvements in the game is key for him.
"I know it's something he wants to get right, he doesn't want to be wasting his opportunities to make an impact."
In a comment piece, NZ Herald columnist Chris Rattue began with: "Will Skelton - just another Wallaby loser".
Rattue went on to say that "Skelton is a lump and a chump. He has so much potential, not only for his own career, but to help reshape the Wallabies who are always desperate for forward power. But he was 140g worth of uselessness a lot of the time.
"When the going got tough Big Will got going, to English club Saracens."
With Australian sides 0-11 against Kiwi teams this year, Hooper denied there was a psychological barrier growing in the minds of local players.
"I don't think so, it almost gets you more enthusiastic, because obviously you want to be the team that breaks it," Hooper said.
"We've only played one Kiwi team this year other than the trials, we get a second shot at it this weekend and we're super keen to notch that up and be the team that does it."
Hooper and hooker Tolu Latu have been brilliant for NSW this year, but the rest of the squad has been largely inconsistent in their 2-4 run from six games.
"It comes down to a team together driving standards, wanting to be performing at your best and giving back to the team, in all conditions against all opponents," Hooper said.
"We've had a good draw, a tough draw, being able to work out what's going to get you right, what's going to get your routine to get into the game and be performing consistently at your 90% to 100 each week has been a challenge for us.
"We have been a younger squad, chops and changes within the team, but I'm hoping and we're needing the trend to go up.
"We're needing players who might be further down working to be more consistent and I'm sure the results will have a different outcome."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.