Wallabies captain Michael Hooper leaves tour, Australia vs Argentina, team news – Michmutters

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper leaves tour, Australia vs Argentina, team news

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has withdrawn from Sunday’s (AEST) Rugby Championship opener against Argentina and is heading home to Australia.

The 121-Test veteran pulled out of the Test after the team was announced on Friday morning, citing a “mindset” issue.

“While this decision did not come easily I know it is the right one for me and the team at this point in time,” Hooper said in a statement.

“My whole career I’ve looked to put the team first and I don’t feel I am able to fulfill my responsibilities at the moment in my current mindset.”

Hooper will be accompanied home by his NSW teammate Dave Porecki, who suffered a head knock earlier in the week.

Fraser McReight, who has long been viewed as Hooper’s heir apparent, has been called up from outside the matchday 23 and will wear the No.7 jersey against Michael Cheika’s coached Los Pumas. It will be his third Test but first start.

James Slipper, who captained the side in Hooper’s absence (injury) last November against Wales, will once again lead the Wallabies.

Michael Hooper has withdrawn from the Wallabies' camp because of a “mindset” issue.  Photo: Getty Images
Michael Hooper has withdrawn from the Wallabies’ camp because of a “mindset” issue. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said “nothing that was evident” to the group that Hooper was struggling with any mental health concerns until the long-serving captain approached the team doctor Sharron Flahive on Thursday (local time).

“How I have trained and how I have contributed around, around the team, around leadership, was excellent,” Rennie said.

“But clearly he’s been struggling a bit and masking that pretty well.

“That came to a head last night and he was brave enough to call Sharron and have a chat with her, which then involved (manager) Chris Webb and myself to get an understanding of where he’s at.

“The concern is all around his wellbeing. It was an easy decision to let him go home, and he’ll get plenty of support around.”


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Dave Rennie has applauded Michael Hooper’s “courage” in looking after his mental health. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Rennie applauded Hooper for his “courage” in addressing the team on Friday (local time) and putting his wellbeing first.

“I think he’s felt he’s been able to suppress things over the past handful of weeks and so we certainly weren’t aware of anything,” Rennie said.

“He’s such a professional. He was able to get on and do his job from him, and he addressed the team today, which took an enormous amount of courage, to let them know that he’s not OK.

“He felt it was best for himself and for the team that he heads home.

“It’s not uncommon in life, is it? It’s a cross section of society and often men will say bugger all and suffer in silence. As I said before, it took a lot of courage for him to address the group so a huge amount of respect from everyone and a respect that we want to get him home and get as much support around him as we can.”

No timeframe will be put on the 30-year-old’s return.

Hooper isn’t the first professional athlete to take time away from their respective careers, with Lance Franklin missing the latter stages of the 2015 AFL season. Glenn Maxwell also spent two months away from cricket in 2019.

The Wallabies will face Michael Cheika’s Argentina on Sunday. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

Hooper made his debut in 2012 and first captained the Wallabies in 2014, after Stephen Moore suffered a season-ending injury against France.

Three successive coaches have made Hooper captain, with Ewen McKenzie turning to the northern beaches flanker in 2014. Michael Cheika then entrusted Hooper with the captaincy as Stephen Moore came to the end of his career in 2017.

Rennie opted to keep Hooper as captain when he took over in 2020.

Hooper has since gone on to break George Gregan’s (59) record as the Wallabies’ most-capped captain, having led the side 68 times.


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Fraser McReight (C) will wear the No.7 jersey in the absence of Michael Hooper. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

His absence allows McReight a long-awaited opportunity in the No.7 jersey.

The Reds open side flanker has had to be patient behind Hooper. While he took no place during the 2-1 series loss to England, McReight was one of his side’s stronger performers during Australia A’s three unofficial Tests in the Pacific Nations Cup.

If you or anyone you know needs immediate support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or via lifeline.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.


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