Michael Hooper: 'Amazing leader and ruthless player'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: After months of speculation about his future, Michael Hooper has been re-appointed as the captain of the Wallabies under Dave Rennie.
Hooper was largely a logical choice for the role as the incumbent, and now looks set to pass George Gregan as the longest-serving captain of the Australian national side. He’s also had plenty of test experience with and without the captaincy, as the second most capped campaigner in the Wallabies squad with 99-tests to his name.
But still, Hooper’s selection has both drawn praise and raised a few eyebrows, with loads of questions surroudning the 28-year-old’s place in the team following his form throughout Super Rugby AU. Reds up-and-comers Fraser McReight and Liam Wright, both had impressive seasons and applied plenty of pressure on Hooper’s hold on the seven jumper.
But althought not his best season, Hooper’s work rate has spoken volumes about his importance to any side, and has seemingly all but locked up his place in the Wallabies seven jersey. He exhibits an elite work rate, constantly running his heart out while playing in arguably the most combative position on the field.
More importantly though, as Australia try to get the most out of the promising next generation of talent coming through their ranks, they need a leader.
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He’s set to lead a 44-man Wallabies squad which includes 16-uncapped players, many of those being members of last year’s Junior Wallabies World Championship Finalists. Hooper’s proven leadership will simply be invaluable this early on in their test careers. This was enough to keep David Pocock, who was arguably the best openside in World Rugby for a while, out of the Wallabies seven jersey for years.
At the same time though, Hooper has one of the worst winning records of any regular Wallabies captain, which in itself could’ve warranted change.
Following the announcement on Wednesday, here’s how Twitter reacted to the news:
— Andrew Ausage (@dru_ausage) September 23, 2020
— Edward Barker (@EdwardB24376757) September 23, 2020
— Wallabies (@wallabies) September 23, 2020
Congrats Michael Hooper who has retained the @wallabies captaincy under new Coach Dave Rennie. Hoops deserves another crack under a new Coaching and Management set-up. He’ll have some new faces in the side as well. Exciting times! @FOXRUGBY
— Greg Clark (@greg_clarkie) September 23, 2020
Hooper will lead the Wallabies in two Bledisloe Cup tests in New Zealand against the All Blacks on October 11th and 17th. Following that, SANZAR and Rugby Australia confirmed on Thursday morning, that Australia would host the entirety of the Rugby Championship from November 7 to December 12.
The Wallabies gathered in camp earlier this week following the Super Rugby AU Final, as they begin their preparations for the test matches ahead.