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Wallabies captain Michael Hooper withdraws from Argentina game

Michael Hooper

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper will return home from Argentina, saying he is unable to fulfil his responsibilities in his current mindset.

Hooper had been named to start for Australia in today’s game against Argentina in Mendoza, but he has withdrawn from the match, as well as next weekend’s encounter with Los Pumas, for personal reasons.

Prop James Slipper will now captain the team, while Fraser McReight will replace Hooper at openside flanker.

Australia head coach Dave Rennie was speaking to the media and praised Hooper for acknowledging that he was not in the right frame of mind to captain his country.

Dave Rennie on Michael Hooper.

“How he trained and how he contributed around the team and around leadership was excellent. But clearly he’s been struggling a bit and masking that pretty well, but it came to a head last night,” Rennie explained.

“He was brave enough to call [team doctor] Sharron [Flahive] and have a chat with her, which then involved [manager] Chris Webb and myself to get an understanding of where he’s at.

“The concern is all around his wellbeing. It was an easy decision to let him go home, and he’ll get plenty of support around him.

Rennie continued: “He addressed the team today, which took an enormous amount of courage, to let them know that he’s not okay. He felt it was best for himself and for the team that he heads home.”

The Wallabies great will take some time out.

Hooper first captained Australia in 2014 at the age of 22 and has done so regularly since Stephen Moore retired back in 2017. The 30-year-old now believes that it is best for himself and the team for him to relinquish the role for the time being.

“While this decision did not come easily I know it is the right one for me and the team at this point in time,” Hooper said.

“My whole career I’ve looked to put the team first and I don’t feel I am able to fulfil my responsibilities at the moment in my current mindset.”

The flanker is one of the world’s best, having been nominated for the World Rugby player of the year award in 2021, and has racked up an astonishing 121 caps for Australia already at the age of 30.

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