Wallabies: Michael Hooper to break captaincy record
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is eyeing 2023 World Cup success to cement his legacy as one of Australia’s all-time greats.
Michael Hooper has no regrets about playing in a Wallabies era of limited success as he plots a hopeful path to World Cup glory in 2023.
Hooper, still only 29, will captain the Wallabies for a record 60th time on Saturday night when Australia meets world champions South Africa at Suncorp Stadium.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie on Thursday tipped flanker Hooper – who will earn his 113th cap in the Rugby Championship clash – to eventually overtake George Gregan’s record for most Wallabies appearances, which stands at 139.
Rennie was also full of praise for his team’s captain, saying Hooper was already a “Wallabies great” whose status wasn’t properly recognised because he wasn’t part of successful and World Cup-winning teams of past eras.
But that’s fine with Hooper, who while flattered with Rennie’s comments, considers himself fortunate to have played in the current era.
“That’s not even something to consider – I’m here, I’m now,” Hooper said.
“I’ve been more than lucky to being around some of the players and some of the teams that I’ve been a part of.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way, (and) my experience … I’ve loved it.”
Hooper said he hoped to further live up to the pedestal he had been placed on by Rennie when Australia aims for back-to-back wins over the Springboks this weekend.
“This is the thing with rugby. I know that you get a lot of great comments and there’s lots of positivity out there, and then there’s also people that see my play a different way and that’s OK too. That’s part of being a professional sportsman,” he said.
“Hearing that from your coach is certainly awesome. I’m just going out there again (on Saturday) to try to cement that even more.”
“Cementing” Hooper’s legacy would be World Cup success in 2023. It’s his target.
“It’s going to be a team effort driving through to this World Cup and I’m so excited about what the group has to offer,” he said.
“We are driven to take this journey one game at a time and see where that lands us in two years.
“You’d ask any national captain in the world what the goal is come the World Cup, (and) it’s the same answer.
“What we can do now is control what we can control each day, each week building into it, the conversations that we have now, the actions that we do put out there now and what that’s going to lead to.
“It’s exciting times but we’re not getting too far ahead (of ourselves).”