Hooper gets tick from previous leaders
Posted on 06/29/19 4:05 PM
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has been backed to perform after returning from his injury layoff.Wallabies captain Michael Hooper’s fitness and leadership have got a big tick from two of his predecessors, as he prepares to return from an eight-week layoff.
Openside flanker Hooper, who last week signed a new five-year deal with Rugby Australia, hasn’t played since June, when he injured a hamstring in the final Test against Ireland.
He has passed a fitness test and is set to lead the side in their opening Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship game against New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday.
Halfback Will Genia, who has played just 35 minutes of a trial since breaking his arm in the second Test, is no stranger to going into a big match after a long injury layoff.
He didn’t anticipate Hooper would have any problems with being pitched straight into a high intensity Bledisloe clash.
“He’ll come back hungry and he’s certainly done the work,” Genia said.
“He looks in good shape, we’re looking forward to having him out there as our skipper obviously as well.”
Hooper’s backrow buddy Pocock was equally confident his skipper wouldn’t miss a beat.
“I’ve seen the man running, he’s got through, he’s looking good,” Pocock said.
“He’s not a player that struggles aerobically so I’m backing him to be fine. He’s a big part of the team you’ve seen the influence he has.
“I personally love playing alongside him.
“We get on well off the field and on the field it’s something we’ve been working on for the last few years now, so it’s good to have him back.”
Hooper initially captained Australia in 2014, but took over the job on a fulltime basis in August 2017, after Stephen Moore stood down.
Pocock said he had seen Hooper grow as a leader.
“I think the role he’s had over the last few years and how much he’s gone through and seen, his leadership is improving all the time,” Pocock said.
‘So in five years he’ll be an old sage.
“He’s someone who wants feedback, who wants to learn and I think when that’s the case, you do become a better leader.
“I think it’s something that has really benefited him.
“He has grown as a leader and he’s certainly on and off the field picks his moments now and is able to have that real impact when he says things.”