Super Rugby
Hooper praises 'special' Dennis after title win
Brittany Mitchell
August 2, 2014
Waratahs 33-32 Crusaders

New South Wales Waratahs captain Michael Hooper has praised Dave Dennis for his contribution off the field in the lead-up to the finals, saying his his injured predecessor has been an inspiration for the side in their pursuit of their maiden Super Rugby title.

Calling him a "unique person" and a "special guy", Hooper said that Dennis had played a huge part in the Waratahs' game both on and off the field - and that he was a "vital cog" in the team's success this season.

"He's been massive, you know it would be nice to sit back and try and bottle what was good for us this year," Hooper said. "But I think one think that I know now is how much a vital cog 'Denno' was in our success this year. You know when a bloke goes down with a couple of weeks to go but comes in and makes your breakfast every day, you know you've got a unique person in your team."

"You got a special guy in Denno, and a guy who's been through a lot in his career and able to turn his head around and do the things that he did in the last couple weeks is amazing. I think as a group we want to play for people like that."

Michael Cheika hails Tahs' team ethic

Captaining in Dennis' absence, Hooper led the Waratahs to their maiden Super Rugby title and said he couldn't be more pleased for the guys who've "toiled away in the Waratahs jersey"; seeing them win the title was "really special" for him, he said.

"It's a weird feeling, no one knows how you should feel when you win a title like that, you know a lot of things that have gone into that for a lot of people," Hooper said.

"A lot of guys have toiled away in the Waratahs jersey for years, I'm so happy that guys like Cliff [Palu], Benn Robbo, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Denno - and that's just naming a few - to hold that title up tonight. I'm so pleased that guys who've put a lot of work in and a lot of heart into this club get to reap the rewards and that makes it really special for a young guy like myself."

The Waratahs celebrate their first Super Rugby title © Getty Images

Michael Cheika said the positive energy of the team, from not just the players who took the field throughout the season, but also the guys who didn't get to play a minute, built the side into a title-winning team.

"Every player's positive energy throughout the year is a contributor to the team being successful," Cheika said. "One guy who says 'I'm not getting a run, this is rubbish' can poison everything. It's all about team, work ethic, everyone being on that same planet that says 'right where going this way, right where going to have our hardship within that, but I'm also going to support my team-mates to the maximum to get to the end goal'."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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