Hooper becomes fourth youngest captain
June 9, 2014
Hooper becomes the fourth youngest Wallabies captain of all time © Getty Images
Michael Hooper has become the fourth youngest Wallabies captain of all time after being appointed to replace injured hooker Stephen Moore. And rising prop James Slipper has been elevated to the vice-captaincy as coach Ewen McKenzie takes a youth policy to leadership.
Not since centre great Trevor Allan became a 21-year-old skipper in 1947 has an Australian Test rugby team been led by a younger player. At 22 years and 223 days, Hooper is just two years older than the Wallabies' youngest captain of all time, Jimmy Flynn, who was a mere 20 when he led the 1914 Wallabies in just his second and last Test. The reigning John Eales Medallist is a year younger than Mark Ella (1982) and Will Genia (2011), who had short stints as captain in more recent times.
McKenzie was pleased by the side's performance over France%]
Hooper takes over from injured hooker Stephen Moore who is having a knee reconstruction after rupturing anterior and medial cruciate ligaments in the 50-23 first Test thumping of France on Saturday night. The NSW Waratahs flanker took over and led the Wallabies for the last 75 minutes of the first Test at Suncorp Stadium, scoring a try and playing superbly in both attack and defence.
McKenzie said he admired Hooper's lead-from-the-front style of captaincy, saying it didn't affect his game at all on Saturday night.
"It's a massive honour to captain your country and I'm confident Michael has all the right leadership qualities to lead this team moving forward," he said. "He'll undoubtedly bring his own unique personality to the way things are done but we wouldn't have recognised him in a leadership capacity (as vice-captain) at the beginning of this series if we didn't think he had to the ability to step into this role.
"I couldn't have been more impressed with his performance on the weekend after Stephen went down, so we know the added responsibility won't impact the high-level of play we all expect from him each week."
Slipper, who turned 25 on Friday, on the eve of his 50th Test cap, joins Adam Ashley-Cooper, 30, as the team's two vice-captains.