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Michael Hooper moves past Israel Folau for new Wallaby record

By AAP
(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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John Eales has lauded Michael Hooper as one of rugby’s most consistent talents after the Wallabies captain won the prize named in his honour for a record fourth time.

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Hooper was awarded his second consecutive John Eales Medal on Sunday, the captain an obvious choice for the player-voted award after a tireless campaign that also saw him nominated for world player of the year.

The victory pushes him clear of three-time winner Israel Folau and confirms his status in the game in the same season he went past George Gregan as Australia’s most-capped skipper.

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“Michael is an incredible pillar of consistency in the Wallabies team,” Eales said.

“His performances as a captain and as a player, week in week out, season in season out, set the perfect example for his team.

“In the history of rugby, there haven’t been many players as consistent as Michael Hooper.

“His influence on this Wallabies team, and rugby in Australia, has been profound so he’s an easy guy for Wallabies supporters and former players to feel proud of.”

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The Wallabies endured a tough start to their year in a Bledisloe Cup hiding but found form in the Rugby Championship against world No.1 South Africa, stringing five wins together for the first time since 2015.

Hooper played almost every minute of the season, only brought down by a foot injury that ruled him out of the final Test of the Spring Tour.

The injury will sideline Hooper for the start of the Super Rugby Pacific season later this month, the Waratahs backrower returning after a season in Japan.

“It’s extremely humbling to be awarded the John Eales Medal in a year where there were so many stand-out performances across the squad,” the 118-Test veteran said.

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“Players certainly don’t play the game for individual awards but there’s no doubt it’s special to be recognised by your teammates in this way.

“As a group we made some good strides last year but there’s still plenty to improve on and I’m looking forward to doing that with the Waratahs and the Wallabies this season.”

JOHN EALES MEDALLISTS

* 2002 George Smith

* 2003 Phil Waugh

* 2004 David Lyons

* 2005 Jeremy Paul

* 2006 Chris Latham

* 2007 Nathan Sharpe

* 2008 George Smith

* 2009 Matt Giteau

* 2010 David Pocock

* 2011 Kurtley Beale

* 2012 Nathan Sharpe

* 2013 Michael Hooper

* 2014 Israel Folau

* 2015 Israel Folau

* 2016 Michael Hooper

* 2017 Israel Folau

* 2018 David Pocock

* 2019 Marika Koroibete

* 2020: Michael Hooper

* 2021 Michael Hooper

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