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Rugby Australia, you can't be serious?

Michael Hooper walks off after being sent off during the Under Armour Series match between Wales and Australia at Principality Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Expert
10th August, 2018
252

There’s no point in Michael Hooper trying to win Lotto, or Powerballl, he’s “won” without buying a ticket.

Yesterday he signed a five-year, $6m contract worth $1.2m a season.

What the?

How can Rugby Australia possibly justify such an amount?

Hooper is not the best Wallaby captain, nor is he the best No. 7 – David Pocock is both.

In fact, if Pocock hadn’t suffered an early season knee reconstructions in 2013 – when he was captain and No. 7, both for the long haul and spoken of in the same breath as All Black legend Richie McCaw – Hooper would never have been given a look-in.

It was even worse for Pocock on his return in 2014, when he suffered another early season knee reconstruction on the other knee.

avid Pocock and Michael Hooper

David Pocock is better than Mike Hooper. Simple. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

For two successive seasons, Pocock was in rehab, watching the Wallabies from the stand or at home on television.

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He has skippered the Wallabies six times for four wins, a win-rate of 66.67 per cent as an inspirational captain who led from the front.

Hooper has been a proven worst Wallaby captain among those who have led the side at least 19 times.

John Eales shows the way with 55 Tests as skipper for 41 wins – a 76.36 per cent win rate.

Next is Andrew Slack – 19 Tests for 14 wins – 73.68 per cent.

Nick Farr-Jones – 36 for 23 – 65.27.

Stirling Mortlock – 29 for 18 – 62.06

Stephen Moore – 26 for 15 – 57.69.

George Gregan – 59 for 34 – 57.62.

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Rocky Elsom – 24 for 13 – 56.25.

Michael Hooper – 29 for 12 – 46.55.

If those stats are bad enough, they get worse with Hooper the most ill-disciplined international rugby captain in history.

He’s been yellow-carded eight times, the most of any tier one rugby country.

Italian lock Marco Bortolami, and South African winger Bryan Habana have been yellow-carded seven times.

Quade Cooper, and South African backrower Schalk Burger, are among those binned six times.

So why is Michael Hooper still Wallaby captain? Why is he still first choice No. 7 pushing the best open-side flanker to No. 8?

With Michael Cheika a man of his word, he’s said he’ll pull up stumps as head coach if the Wallabies don’t win the Rugby World Cup next year in Japan.

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If his replacement doesn’t have the same supportive streak towards Hooper, or Darryl Gibson’s eventual replacement for the Waratahs is the same, Hooper could well be like Quade Cooper – playing club rugby on $800,000 a year because Brad Thorn doesn’t want him in the Queensland Reds squad.

Only Hooper would be getting paid $1.2m a year.

Hooper said last night it’s exciting to be signed for the next two Rugby World Cups, but added – “I’d better lift my game”.

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That’s a fair call, and so would staying on the park where a captain should be, and being an inspiration captain like his No. 8.

Then, and only then, will Michael Hooper be worth anything like $1.2m a year.

Right now he’s won the lottery without a ticket, and both the Wallabies and rugby fans deserve a whole lot more than that.