Australia must cope without captain Hooper for rest of Rugby Championship

By Sports Desk September 01, 2022

Michael Hooper does not figure in Australia's plans for the rest of the Rugby Championship, coach Dave Rennie said on Thursday.

Captain Hooper pulled out of the Wallabies team for the series opener against Argentina at the start of August, citing personal reasons, and travelled home from South America.

He said he was unable "to fulfil my responsibilities at the moment in my current mindset", and Australia will not rush Hooper back.

Rennie said: "I've had plenty of contact with Hoops. I'm not going to comment on where he's at and what that looks like. We're not looking to include him in the rest of the Rugby Championship.

"We'll make decisions beyond that, but certainly not looking to rush him in. But he's certainly on the improve."

In Hooper's continuing absence, Australia's starting XV will be unchanged for Saturday's tussle with South Africa at Sydney's new Allianz Stadium, following a 25-17 win over the Springboks last weekend in Adelaide. Jake Gordon, the Waratahs captain, joins the replacements.

Australia and Argentina lead the way in the championship with two wins and one loss each. The Wallabies will wrap up their campaign with home and away games against the All Blacks.

Rennie said: "While rapt with last week's effort, we're well aware of the challenge a wounded Springbok poses and the intensity we will require again on Saturday night."

South Africa named their team on Tuesday, making eight changes, including bringing in Canan Moodie for a debut on the wing.


Wallabies team: Reece Hodge, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Hunter Palsami, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Nic White; James Slipper (captain), Folau Fainga'a, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Matt Philip, Jed Holloway, Fraser McReight, Rob Valetini.

Replacements: David Porecki, Scott Sio, Taniela Tupou, Darcy Swain, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Jake Gordon, Andrew Kellaway.

South Africa team: Willie le Roux, Canan Moodie, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Damian Willemse, Jaden Hendrikse; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi (captain), Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Kwagga Smith, Duane Vermeulen, Cobus Reinach, Frans Steyn, Warrick Gelant.

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