Cape Town - Wallabies flank Michael Hooper has revealed that he is disheartened by the latest injury sustained by his back row partner, David Pocock.
Pocock’s broken hand, sustained in the 36-20 win over Argentina, has ruled him out for the remainder of the Rugby Championship and possibly the final Bledisloe Cup Test on October 22, with the end-of-year tour his final chance for Wallabies selection ahead of a 2017 sabbatical.
Pocock has played just 12 of a possible 48 Tests since 2013, with two consecutive knee reconstructions and a myriad of unfortunate injuries hampering his progress.
He was once again preparing for surgery on Monday, posting on social media before going under the knife.
Hooper, three years his junior, has notched 58 Tests, playing in 45 of those 48 and notching 58 overall since his 2012 debut.
The 24-year-old said it was hard to see another injury to Pocock, who missed two of the June series Tests this year with a fractured eye socket.
"Straight off the bat, really sad for Poey," Hooper told the Australian Rugby Union's official website.
"He puts himself in such great physical nick to play and that sucks for him."
Two of those who could follow in Pocock’s footsteps had a chance to push their credentials in Perth on Saturday, Sean McMahon especially destructive after replacing Pocock in the 36th minute.
Debutant Lopeti Timani was solid in his first minutes for the Wallabies as well, giving the option of a more traditional number eight and impressing Hooper in his maiden outing.
"[I was] impressed with how Lopeti's gone this year, seeing him from afar in Super Rugby and be able to turn into training and make everyone train better," he added.
Whoever it is who becomes Pocock’s successor, Hooper said the entire squad had started to show character in their win over the Pumas, a defence-heavy effort that featured a feisty scuffle kickstarted by an Israel Folau penalty.
"We've had a lot of heat from teams and everyone, so we're sticking together, we're enjoying sticking together and we've got to work at all the hard things," added Hooper.
"We've been working hard and we want to stick up for each other in those situations and really pleasing to see the guys all want to be a part of it and especially for someone like Izzy, who's one of the world's best players."