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Reports of Michael Hooper’s new deal with Rugby Australia have proven to not be exaggerated as all, as Thursday’s rumours were confirmed in a press conference on Friday.
Hooper has signed a contract that commits him to being a part of the Waratahs and the Wallabies until the end of 2023, locking him in not just for next year’s World Cup but the one to follow also.
Hooper will reportedly earn $6 million over the course of his five-year contract.
Key Wallabies Israel Folau and Bernard Foley remain unsigned for 2019 and beyond.
“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,” said Hooper.
“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.
“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.”
National coach Michael Cheika praised Hooper’s commitment.
“Michael’s commitment to Rugby in Australia and to the Wallabies is second to none,” said Cheika.
“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.”
Rugby Australia CEO said it was the right call to lock away Hooper for the long term.
“Michael is the type of person that you want to build your team around. He offers so much both on and off the field and is a fine example to all young Australians,” said Castle.
“He’s come through all of the junior pathways, he’s broken all sorts of records along the way but most importantly, he’s earned the respect of his teammates and the organisations he’s represented.
“The length of the deal will be talked about but it’s fair reward for a player like Michael. He was upfront in signalling that he wanted to commit to Australian Rugby so we couldn’t be more pleased to have him remain until at least 2023.”