Super Hooper commits to five more years with Australian rugby

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

UPDATE: Rugby Australia has confirmed a new five-year deal for Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.

The new contract will take Hooper through the next two Rugby World Cups and to the end of 2023.

It's not the first five-year contract in Australian rugby - Lote Tuqiri signed a five-year deal in 2007 but the contract was later terminated.

The length of the deal shows Hooper's value to the Wallabies, with the flanker able to command far more than $1 million a season in overseas markets.

Hooper said the decision to stay in Australian rugby was an easy one.

It was all smiles for Michael Cheika and Michael Hooper. Photo: Getty Images"For me the statement I would make is there's a lot to play for here, there's a lot to be excited about, not only at Wallaby level but at Super level," he said.

"We get that right - had some outstanding focus on that Ireland series, some great club games.

"Playing down at Brookie in front of my home crowd was an amazing feeling for me. I look around and I go, I don't want to play anywhere else. Love playing here, I love seeing kids excited wearing the Wallaby jersey down after a good Test match or something like that.

"That brings a smile to my face. So, I want to try and extend that as long as possible.

“I love Australian rugby. I like heading down to Manly Oval to watch club footy in time off, I obviously enjoy getting stuck in at Super Rugby level and then nothing compares to playing Test footy for your country.

“I’m not really into contracts and all that back-and-forward, so to know that I’m sorted through to the next World Cup is really comforting and just means I can throw everything into the Waratahs and Wallabies."

The two-time John Eales Medallist became the fifth-youngest Wallabies captain ever when he took over the mantle temporarily in 2014, before being appointed skipper full-time in 2017.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said the sport would be open to offering more players long-term deals, in the same vein as Hooper's.

"We've talked about longer-term signings with several players over the years but often they're not encouraged to do them," he said.

"So, I think we'll try to pick the targets and it'll be interesting to see if guys come to us and say, 'I want to stay longer'.

"A lot of it's in the players' court as well too. But I think we talked about it over a period of time with Michael and he was really open to the idea and I think he's growing into a great captain for the team.

"He started being captain at a very young age so he's got a lot of life experience.

"That's only going to serve him well going into the next years.

"Not just this year and next year, but beyond and I think that's going to be a real advantage so we can leave a leadership legacy for the next crew that are coming in after us."

Hooper's extension leaves just Bernard Foley and Israel Folau as players yet to sign new deals.

Folau is reportedly looking for a four-year deal to stay in Australia, while Foley's looks to be a shorter deal, potentially even just one year.

"I told that to the other two yesterday, I put the heat on them so they've got to sort themselves out now," Hooper laughed.

"Look, everyone's made their own mind up but if they're out there and people are willing to do it then fantastic great, you can lock it in, build a future, you could start looking at how we can develop players going forward, not only as skill set wise but leadership wise, so by the time it's coming to the end they're handing on this wealth of knowledge to the next group coming through."

The Wallabies host the All Blacks in the first Bledisoe on Saturday August 18, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO, with the Wallaroos taking on the Black Ferns from 5:15pm AEST as well. Buy tickets here.