Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has stood down as skipper of the NSW Waratahs, with Test lock Rob Simmons taking over the job.
Openside flanker Hooper, who has been fulltime captain of the Tahs for the past four seasons, still intends to make himself available to be Wallabies skipper, a role he has held since August 2017.
Utility back Kurtley Beale is the Tahs new vice-captain.
Hooper said he had been thinking about his decision for around 18 months and had question marks about continuing to captain the Waratahs as well as the Wallabies.
“Doing both roles for some time it would be remiss of me to say it doesn’t have a taxing effect,” Hooper said.
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“There’s much more than just running out on the park, leading the team out on the weekend
“There’s performances of teams that weigh into it, there’s the media, all my friends.
“Having to speak every week is tough and trying to get the message right and represent the team as best as possible.
“A big part of it is I’ve got another four years here and I want to make that four years really special and take my personal game and leadership to another level.”
Asked about the Wallabies captaincy Hooper said “that’s a fair way away, but my thoughts around that have not changed.
“I still think I’ve got a lot of growing in myself, my gameplay and my captaincy.
“Those are conversations that (new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie) and myself will be having I’m sure in the future.”
Rennie watched Hooper and the Waratahs train on Wednesday.
Queenslander Simmons, who is in his third season with NSW after captaining the Reds during his time there, said: “I asked for some time to think about it and consulted the people I wanted to consult, in particular, my family, and came to the decision that I would like to do the job.”
The Waratahs have managed to secure the service of Rebels outside back Jack Maddocks:
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