Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper has re-signed with Rugby Australia and New South Wales Waratahs on a five-year deal believed to be worth around $[Aus]6 million.
Hooper on Friday confirmed he would remain in Australian rugby through 2023, securing his place as the long-term Wallabies leader.
“I never really thought about going elsewhere or entertaining anything like that. I was really keen to stay in Australia, and keep doing what I can for the Wallabies and the Waratahs,” Hooper said via a Rugby Australia media release.
“It’s a long deal so I have to thank Cheik (Wallabies coach Michael Cheika) and Raelene (Rugby Australia Chief Executive) as well as the Waratahs for having the belief in me in that I can continue to contribute.
“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.
Wallabies backrower Pete Samu can’t wait to face his champion Lions teammates at the Bledisloe Cup.
“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.”
News of Hooper’s long-term deal, the five-year contract only previously used for code-hopper Lote Tuqiri, had been reported earlier this year but its confirmation on Friday continues Australia’s positive buildup to the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney next weekend.
Hooper, 26, first took on the captaincy when former skipper Stephen Moore was injured in the first Test against France in 2014. The Sydneysider has since gone on to captain the Wallabies on more than 30 occasions across 82 Tests.
Hooper hasn’t played since injuring his hamstring in the third Test against Ireland back in June, but he remains confident of lining up against the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium next week.
Hooper could have taken up an offer overseas and continued to play for the Wallabies under the “Giteau Law”, making his decision to stay at home a big win for Rugby Australia.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika lauded Hooper’s character and said the skipper would only get better as a leader over the next few years.
“Michael’s commitment to rugby in Australia and to the Wallabies is second to none,” Cheika said. “He is a very proud Australian and a great representative of what we want in sport in Australia. He guarantees full commitment and effort every time he plays and he never takes a backward step.
“Every time he has pulled on the green and gold he shows this commitment, and now as captain he’s learning each day and growing into the type of leader that we need in the game.
“I know Michael can see the huge amount of young talent in the game that is coming through at the moment and I am sure it’s a big part of why he would be committing to a long term deal.”