Hooper named as new Wallabies captain
RUGBY UNION: Michael Hooper has been confirmed as the new Wallabies captain and the outstanding flanker has a plan to develop a fresh leadership group ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Hooper was officially unveiled by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika as Stephen Moore's replacement at a press conference in Sydney on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old Waratahs skipper already has 68 Tests to his name and will lead Australia in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney on August 19 after Moore's decision to stand down as captain in his final season of international rugby.
Hooper already has considerable Test captaincy experience, having filled in for the injured Moore in 2014 when he became the youngest Wallabies skipper (22 years, 223 days) since Ken Catchpole in 1961.
He has an enormous challenge in front of him after Australia slipped to fourth in the world rankings following a shock home loss to Scotland in June.
Australia's Super Rugby franchises all endured losing records in 2017 and failed to beat their Kiwi opponents in 26 attempts.
"It's a huge honour to just wear the Wallabies jersey, let alone captain the side," Hooper said.
"I'm extremely grateful to Cheik but also to Steve for all that he's done for me and the team.
"It's what you do in the jersey that's most important and I get another crack at showing what it means to me against New Zealand in Sydney in a fortnight.
"There are quite a few good young leaders in this team like Bernard (Foley), Adam (Coleman), Samu (Kerevi) and Allan (Alaalatoa), so we'll be working together to take this team to a new level.
"I'm really excited about what we can achieve in the next four months.
"It is a very special opportunity for all of us, and we'll be doing all we can to show that pride in the jersey."
Hooper and Cheika have a close relationship and worked together as the Waratahs won their maiden Super Rugby title in 2014, making it an easy decision.
A two-time John Eales Medal winner as Australia's premier player, Hooper has consistently been among the Wallabies' best in recent seasons.
"Michael always shows on the field how much he loves the gold jersey and that's why he is totally respected among the rugby players in Australia," Cheika said.
"His role as the leader of this team will also be about making the standards of the Australian rugby team the highest they can possibly be.
"Michael loves Australia and his record as a player speaks for itself but he's exactly the type of man we want see in rugby: connected to his school, a great club man at the grassroots, a passionate Super Rugby player and a proud Wallaby."
Cheika will name Hooper's two vice-captains when the Rugby Championship squad is announced Thursday.