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Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has agreed to a new $6 million deal with Rugby Australia, which will keep him in Australian rugby for the next five years.
The huge new deal was reported by Jamie Pandaram of the Daily Telegraph on Thursday evening, with the flanker set to lead the Wallabies into the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship during the coming weeks if he can overcome a hamstring strain which has badly hampered his preparation.
The $6 million over five years will equate to $1.2 million in contracted earnings per year.
The deal means Hooper will be with Rugby Australia – and presumably the Waratahs – through to the end of 2023, ensuring he will be available for the next two World Cups in 2019 and 2023.
It will make him the richest player under contract with Rugby Australia, with the currently 26-year-old Hooper almost certain to now end his career at home, rather than heading overseas.
While it’s unclear exactly what value he would have commanded overseas, the deal is a big coup for Rugby Australia with Hooper one of the most talented players in the world.
As it stands, Hopper has played 82 Tests for the Wallabies having made his debut in 2012. He first became captain of the national team during 2014 and was the youngest to have the honour bestowed upon him since Ken Catchpole in 1961.
At club level, Hooper spent the first three years of his career with the Brumbies, and has been with the Waratahs ever since. His highlight there was captaining the Sydney-based side to the 2014 Super Rugby final, but he has become one of the best players in the competition.
The deal is also an historic one. Hooper is just the second player in Australian rugby history to take up a five-year deal after Lote Tuqiri in 2007.