Wallabies and NSW Waratahs flanker Michael Hooper will continue his rugby in Australia after signing a new two-year contract extension through until the end of 2018. Having previously signed until the end 2016, the 42-Test veteran joins a host of young Wallabies committing to Australian Rugby beyond this season. At only 23, Hooper has achieved almost every individual accolade in Australian Rugby, including the John Eales Medal, Super Rugby Player of Year and Matthew Burke Cup.
Hooper said he was looking forward to continuing his career in Australia and challenging himself in the toughest provincial and international rugby competitions in the world: ‘The opportunity to play for my country is something I am very passionate about, and is a huge reason why I wanted to commit beyond my current term. I am just stoked to be in this position. To be able to stay here in Australia allows me represent my country, state, club, and all of the people who have supported me since I began playing rugby as a junior. For me, that is what being a Wallaby is all about and the greatest honour we have as players. It is something we always cherish and never take for granted. There is no better environment for me to improve as a player than here within Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship, competing against and alongside some of the best flankers in the world.’ Hooper’s commitment further demonstrates the growing trend of young Wallabies hungry for success under Wallabies Head Coach Michael Cheika. He says: ‘We all want to be part of this next chapter in Australian rugby. To be able to lay solid foundations for the years ahead is something I am really excited about.’
Cheika praised Hooper for his leadership and maturity at such a young age, saying: ‘Michael plays the game with the passion and intensity that we want the Wallabies to be known for. I am very pleased for him, as I know he’s worked extremely hard to put himself in this position and doesn’t take his opportunities for granted. At just 23, there is still a lot of improvement left in his game and I know he will continue to work hard at becoming a better player while continuing to inspire others around him.’ The former St Pius X College student was always destined for big things.
At just 18, Hooper debuted for the Brumbies in 2010 and was named in Australian Under-20s, before being ruled out through injury.
The following season he was once again selected in the national Under-20 team, in which he dominated, claiming the Australian Under-20 Player of the Year Award. In 2012, Hooper made his Wallabies debut coming off the bench in the 65th minute against Scotland in Newcastle, just two hours drive from his local club of Manly. That same year, Hooper started in all but one Test Match, claiming the Wallabies Rookie of the year and polling third in the overall voting in the John Eales Medal standings.
The following season Hooper returned home to the Waratahs where he exploded onto the international scene, winning the John Eales Medal by more than 110 votes, while also collecting the Super Rugby Player of the Year and the ‘Australia’s Choice Player of the Year’ in the same calendar season, capping off a meteoric rise in only four years of professional Rugby. 2014 would see Hooper assert himself as one of most coveted flankers in the game and a leader both on and off the field. With the injury to David Dennis, Hooper stepped into the NSW Waratahs captaincy role, leading them to their maiden Super Rugby title and winning his second Super Rugby Player of the Year award.
Following a season-ending injury to Stephen Moore against France in 2014, Hooper was named the 82nd Wallabies Test captain, becoming the youngest player (age 22, 223 days) to lead the side since Ken Catchpole (age 21, 354 days) in 1961. Hooper then went on and collected his second Australia’s Choice Player of the Year, while finishing runner-up in the John Eales Medal. Since his Wallabies debut in 2012, Hooper has not missed a Wallabies Test match, featuring in all 42 Tests, starting in 36 and scoring a total of 35 points (7 tries).
Since 2010, Hooper has played 79 (48 Waratahs, 31 Brumbies) Super Rugby matches.
Michael Hooper – Wallaby number 859
Date of Birth: 29/10/1991
Place of Birth: Sydney, NSW
Super Rugby Caps: 79
Super Rugby Debut: 2010 vs Chiefs (ACT Brumbies)
Test Caps: 42
Test Debut: 2012 v Scotland, Newcastle