Australia: Michael Hooper willing to resume Wallabies captaincy role
Veteran Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper has revealed that he is open to resume his role as the two-time world champions’ captain if he is asked to do it.
Last year, the 31-year-old stepped down from the leadership position after making a dramatic withdrawal from the Wallabies team less than 48 hours before their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Mendoza, due to mental health problems.
He took a two and half month break from the game before returning to action on Australia‘s end-of-year tour to Europe but left the captaincy to James Slipper and said taking back the leadership role was not part of his plans.
But now Hooper, who has captained his country on a record 64 occasions in 124 Test appearances, says he is ready to return to the position as Wallabies skipper if head coach Eddie Jones makes that decision.
“Look, I’m open to whatever’s best for the team,” Hooper told AAP.
“My first and foremost commitment is to play really good rugby and play the best rugby I can for the Tahs, and how that then develops later into the year, we’ll see.
“There’s so much that can happen in six months, which is what the time frame (is), or maybe even less, to the Test matches over there.”
Jones only took over the Wallabies’ coaching reins from Dave Rennie last month, and Hooper said he’d had little discussion with the new head coach.
“But from the conversations I have had, very impressive,” he said.
“I mean, what a career he’s had, and to come back home for him is very exciting. So there’s a huge amount to learn off someone with that amount of experience.”
Jones will likely also be eager to call on a player of Hooper’s experience, who showed upon his Test return last year that he is still in fine form.
The hard-grafting tearaway said he is “absolutely” keen to play at this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
“Physically and mentally, I feel great,” said Hooper, who will return to action when the Waratahs kick off their Super Rugby Pacific campaign against the Brumbies in Sydney on Friday.
“I’ve got some games under the belt, so that helps. I’ve got a good amount of experience to count on.
“When I had that time off last year, it was a very similar amount of time to when I played (again) in the Scotland Test.
“It was about three-and-a-half months or just under that. It’s been about the same time since I played against Ireland now rolling into this one. So it’s very doable.
Ready to contribute
“To roll out 80 minutes, that I’d be happy with, and I can really contribute to the team.
“I know I’m going to be blowing this game. It’s going to be hard, there’s going to be times where I’ve got the hands on the hips and head back and sucking in seagulls like everyone. “I’ll have to dig deep at times, but it’s those times that are fun with these match-ups.”
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