Michael Hooper has slammed the door shut on walking away from the Wallabies captaincy, saying he “absolutely” remains the best man for the job.
With only 20 wins from 51 tests in charge, Hooper’s captaincy has been called into question entering the Wallabies’ final test of the year on Saturday night against Argentina.
Having handed over the leadership of the NSW Waratahs to Rob Simmons in 2020, there’s also a perception that the laid-back 29-year-old has a “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude towards the Wallabies’ top job.
But he set the record straight when grilled on the topic on Friday.
“Haven’t thought about it. Why would I? I’m focused on Saturday,” Hooper said when asked if he’d considered handing over the armband.
“It’s a massive privilege to captain your country. I’ve been very lucky to do it on many occasions and I love that.
“It’s very rewarding as a unit and as a team when that group comes up with a plan and you execute a plan.
“It’s super rewarding post the game when you put in a performance you’re proud of. They’re the things why you put yourself in this position.
“There’s plenty more opportunities to get some better ones as well. That’s very exciting for the future, too.”
Emphatically ruling out stepping down, Hooper said he cherished being skipper of the Wallabies and hoped to do so for years to come.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 3, 2020
“I get to stand in the line and not only represent my country but lead some men that have sacrificed a lot and we get to do a lot in the jersey and do that all across the world,” said the champion flanker.
“I love that and I know it’s only a finite time you’re able to do that in anyone’s career. Great privilege and it’s probably the longer I’m in the game the more I realise the great position that we are in.”
Hooper has been prone to making some puzzling on-field decisions during his captaincy tenure, be it opting for penalty points over a lineout and driving maul chance or vice versa.
But he was adamant he got the calls right in Australia’s last-up 15-15 Tri Nations draw with the Pumas in Newcastle.
“I was very pleased with my decisions in the last game,” he said.
“We gave our opportunity there to take the win and move away with it.
“At 6-15 with 19 minutes to go, we were primed to move and put that game to bed, which we weren’t able to do through our lack of discipline and game management there.
“We’ll be better for that. I’ve learnt a lot in the past in making decisions around that and I was pleased with the calls that were made.”
The Wallabies face the impossible task of needing to beat the Pumas by 101 points to snatch the Tri Nations trophy from New Zealand’s grasp.
Hooper will settle for the next-best scenario.
The Blues are reportedly in the hunt for the signature of Los Pumas midfielder Santiago Chocobares to fill the final spot on their roster for the upcoming season. #Blues #LosPumas #SuperRugby https://t.co/9yRPBmlYmz
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 4, 2020
“We want both sides of our game to click tomorrow,” he said. “We’ve been good in patches in different games in the year.
“We’re looking to have a complete performance in attack, counter-attack, defensively.
“(Pumas goal-kicker Nicolas) Sanchez is a great player – we want to keep him to minimal points so we need to be disciplined to do that.”
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