Veteran prop to lead Wallabies against Wales
NEWS: James Slipper will replace the injured Michael Hooper as Wallabies captain against Wales this weekend in Cardiff with the promotion of the veteran prop a popular choice among the players.
The Wallabies gave a “big roar” after it was announced Slipper would step in for Hooper, who suffered a mid-foot sprain against England to miss their final tour Test.
Hooper’s absence is a hammer blow for their hopes of salvaging some spring-tour pride as they look to avoid a first winless spring tour of Europe since 1976 after losses to Scotland and England.
While the champion flank will remain with the team, Slipper will lead the team for just the second time with his only previous experience during his 113-Test career coming against the USA in 2015.
Playmaker James O’Connor said while the loss of Hooper would be keenly felt at Principality Stadium, the 32-year-old Slipper would bring a “steady presence”.
“It’s obviously devastating losing our captain Hoops but the boys are pretty excited and there was a big roar when we heard that Slips was captain,” O’Connor said from Cardiff on Tuesday.
“He’s been there and done that and everyone can rely on him – he’s a very steady presence on the field.”
Like O’Connor, Slipper has his own redemption story, bouncing back from a recreational drugs ban in 2018 to become Mr Dependable.
Against England he was a rock for the scrum after switching from his usual loosehead to cover at tighthead due to an injury crisis with Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa both out after head knocks.
“That’s just credit to the hard work he puts in and just how much he loves the game – he leaves it all out there,” O’Connor said of Slipper.
“He hadn’t played tighthead prop since 2012 so we asked a lot of him and he delivered big time.
“He’s been on his own journey but he’s someone you get around – he’s very authentic, a great bloke and we’re excited for him to lead us out for our last game this year.”