'I would be very proud': Hooper still wants to captain Wallabies

by Christy Doran

Incumbent Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper has given the biggest indication yet that he wants to continue to lead his country forward under new coach Dave Rennie.

New Zealander Rennie, who on Tuesday touched down in Australia after a quick trip home following wrapping things up at Scottish club Glasgow, earlier in the year said that he had yet to decide on who would be his captain.

"I've had no real thought around who's going to be captain or when we're going to decide that,” said Rennie, on his first official outing in Australia in January after being announced as Michael Cheika’s successor two months earlier.

“The key thing for me is about earning the right. All those guys are going to have to play really well to make the team and then we'll decide who the captain will be."

Hitherto, Hooper has been tight lipped about the captaincy.

The 28-year-old’s decision to stand down as Waratahs captain after four years gave some the indication that he wanted to do away with the leadership duties.

But, in truth, Hooper wanted to relinquish the Waratahs’ captaincy a year earlier but was encouraged to stay on for another year.

Hooper became the youngest Wallabies captain since Ken Catchpole half-a-century earlier when he was thrown in the deep end as a 22-year-old in 2014 against France when Stephen Moore was injured in the opening minutes of the first Test in Brisbane.

He officially took over from Moore in 2017 and has led Australia out in 46 of his 99 Tests.

Asked whether he wanted the Wallabies captaincy, Hooper said it had been a privilege to lead his captaincy but he was solely focused on whatever was in the best interest of the team.

“No, I haven’t spoken to Dave about it because it’s something that I think will develop down the track,” Hooper told Fox Sports.

“As far as my take on captaincy, it’s a privilege that’s given to you by the people that decide that. That’s always been my mindset on it.

“If it pans out that way, yeah, I’m going to do everything I can to be the best I can be in that environment and, if I’m not, how can I help the team as best as possible - that’s my mindset.”

Pressed on whether he was open for change, the openside flanker said it would be an honour if he was given the right to do continue to lead the Wallabies.

“Look, I’m very proud to have been captain of the country and I would still be very proud to continue doing that, and I would be very pleased to take on that role if it was bestowed upon me.”