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Michael Hooper texted Fraser McReight immediately after Wallabies win

By Stefan Frost
Fraser McReight vs South Africa at Adelaide Oval on August 27, 2022 (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Australia’s Fraser McReight revealed he received congratulatory messages from Michael Hooper after starring in his nation’s 25-17 win over South Africa in Adelaide.

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McReight has impressed since being promoted to starting seven in place of Wallabies legend Hooper, who dropped out of the opening Rugby Championship double header against Argentina due to reasons related to personal wellbeing.

In the absence of their talisman, Australia were at a crossroads, but in McReight they have found a worthy replacement who has shone in the few test matches he has appeared in.

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On Saturday, the young Queensland Reds flanker had memorable interventions at both ends of the pitch. He scored two pivotal tries that helped dismantle South Africa and also pulled off a crucial breakdown turnover near his own try-line.

Weeks before, McReight scored his first international try in the 41-26 win over Argentina in Mendoza, setting down a marker of his try-scoring potential.

Few were shocked by the value McReight brought to the field – the 23-year-old has been shining in Super Rugby for some time – it has just invariably taken a bit of time to displace Hooper in Australia’s starting line-up.

Despite the competition between the pair, Hooper was one of the first to congratulate his fellow flanker, privately messaging him in the immediate aftermath of the game.

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“Yeah he texted me after the game tonight and sort of brought up the two tries I got,” McReight said. “He’s probably sitting at home wishing he had scored those.’

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“Obviously I waited a long time to get that exposure and competing with Hoops for two-and-a-half years was very good for my development in terms of just seeing how he preps.”

McReight paid back the compliment, attributing much of his rise to stardom on the international stage to the example and influence Hooper has had on his career so far.

“He’s a soldier of the game, a great at the game, and to see how he goes day to day and how he backs up from game to game – it was great to learn and just to view.

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“We’re two different players, obviously, but yeah, being his apprentice and learning from him has been wonderful for me.”

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Chances to break into test rugby are few and far between. McReight, having waiting in the wings behind Hooper, is acutely aware of this and does not intend to squander his opportunity.

Even so, he remains focused on the next challenge ahead and revealed he is not getting too caught in his long-term future with the Wallabies.

“I’m doing a job for a team at the moment and I just want to, like I said, do him proud, do the jersey proud and do the team proud,” he said.

“If he comes back and starts at seven then, he’s a legend in the game, and that’s what’s going to happen.”

It remains unclear when Hooper will make his Australia return, or indeed whether he will return to resume his captaincy.

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