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Wallabies coach Rennie hails Hooper’s courage after withdrawal

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Australia coach Dave Rennie praised captain Michael Hooper for his courage after the flanker withdrew from the Wallabies’ squad on the eve of their two-test Rugby Championship sequence in Argentina.

Hooper had been chosen to play in Saturday’s opening conflict with the Pumas in Mendoza, however knowledgeable administration on Friday he was not in the best way of thinking to play and has since departed the crew’s base.

“(There was) nothing that was evident to us, how he trained and how he contributed around the team, around leadership was excellent but clearly he’s been struggling a bit and masking that pretty well,” Rennie informed reporters.

“But it came to a head last night and he was brave enough to call Sharon (Flahive, Wallabies team doctor) and have a chat with her and then involved (team manager) Chris Webb and myself to get an understanding of where he is at.

“The concern is throughout his welfare and it was a simple resolution to let him go residence the place he’ll get loads of assist round him.”

Hooper will return to Australia accompanied by his New South Wales Waratahs team mate Dave Porecki, who was already ruled out of both tests against Argentina after sustaining a head injury in training.

“We’re not placing any time frames on it,” Rennie said when asked how long Hooper would be sidelined.

“Obviously he is felt he is been in a position to suppress issues over the previous handful of weeks so we definitely weren’t conscious of something,” Rennie added.

Prop James Slipper, who has played 110 times for Australia, will captain the Wallabies in Hooper’s absence while Fraser McReight takes over at the number seven position.

“It’s not unusual in life is it?” Rennie said of Hooper’s issues. “(Rugby’s) a cross-section of society. Often males will say bugger all and endure in silence.

“It took a lot of courage from him to address the group, so a huge amount of respect from everyone and respect that we want to get him home and get as much support around him as we can.”


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