Captaincy won't change Hooper's focus

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Newly appointed Waratahs captain Michael Hooper has a simple focus as he embarks on a year with added responsibilities: winning.

Hooper, 24, has taken over the team captaincy from veteran Dave Dennis, who will be the side’s club captain this season.

With a semi-final loss ending their 2015 season, Hooper said success was the aim for 2016.

“In short you want to win, you want to create a good environment, (when you’re) doing what is such a good job,” he said.

Hooper has captained both the Waratahs and Wallabies in the past and said the opportunities that have come at a relatively young age, can be partly credited to those around him.

“I’ve always had a good support network,” he said.

“I’ve always enjoyed the teams I’ve been involved in and this group is a really exciting young group this year.

“The young guys are sticking their hands up from day one in the new year and you want to be a part of it.

“You  get excited each time you turn up here in a fantastic city like Sydney. We can’t wait for our trial games and round one.”

Hooper and his fellow Wallabies returned to training in the first week of January, giving him one of the longest breaks from Rugby that he’s had.

That time off, he said, put an extra fire in his belly to take things to a new level when he gets back on the field, whenever head coach Daryl Gibson decides that is.

“I can’t really pick and choose (when I play),” he said.

“Wherever I come in this year I’ll be raring to go.

“We (the Wallabies) had a great break - longest break any of us have had ever, I think.

“So we’re raring to go. The body’s good, we’re getting fit here and just enjoying doing that hard work.”

While the captaincy will demand more of him on the field, Hooper said it wouldn’t affect his approach too much.

“You’ve still got to play your game,” he said.

“I think you’re picked as captain to maintain your on-field status as a player so I’ve been working hard on that as a player, working hard on my fitness along with everyone else here.

“You do have a few added responsibilities throughout the week and particularly on the weekend.

“it’s a learning process but you want to keep that growing and enjoy it.”