Baptism of fire pays off
MICHAEL Hooper says a tumultuous year as the Wallabies’ youngest ever skipper in 2014 helped him “come of age” and put him in good stead to take over from Stephen Moore again three years later.
As widely expected, Hooper was named the new Wallabies captain following Moore’s decision to step down last week, ahead of his retirement from Test rugby at the end of the year.
Hooper is anything but a “new” captain, though, having led the Wallabies on to the field as a stand- in skipper 15 times already.
Indeed, since he replaced the newly appointed but swiftly injured Moore five minutes into the start of the 2014 season, Hooper has been captain of the Wallabies more often than not when wearing the gold jersey.
Of 39 Tests across the last four seasons, Hooper has started as captain 15 times and counting up the time he’s assumed the role after Moore was replaced, stats show Hooper has led the Wallabies for another 421 minutes; or the equivalent of just over five more games.
But while captaining the Wallabies is not foreign territory for Hooper, the 25- yearold is the first to admit he has come a long way as a leader since the first week in charge in June 2014.
Ewen McKenzie appointed Hooper as a vice- captain with an eye to the future but suddenly he was the youngest ever Wallabies captain, wondering how a 22- yearold could give orders to senior Wallabies he’d long admired.
“I very much felt like an interim captain there. It was Steve’s team and then a week later it changed,” Hooper said.
“You do think about ( perceptions). You have guys you look up to and guys who have been around for a long time, and it was my third year but really only two years in the Wallabies, so yeah, it was tough and you had to push yourself out of your comfort zone.”
READY: New Australian Wallabies captain Michael Hooper at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.