Why the writing was on the wall that Michael Hooper was ready to WALK from rugby as Wallabies captain stands down from Tests against Argentina over mindset concerns

  • Wallabies veteran Michael Hooper won’t play in Sunday’s test versus Argentina
  • The 30-year-old openside flanker is returning to Australia for personal reasons
  • Hooper’s immediate well-being is paramount, according to coach Dave Rennie

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper won’t play in the Rugby Championship opener against Argentina and will return home due to personal reasons.

However, while the development may shock some rugby fans, the signs have been ominous for some time.

In an interview back in May, the 121-test veteran acknowledged his time on the international stage may be up soon – and that he is unlikely to feature in the Rugby World Cup in 2027 on Australian soil.

‘I will be in the stands with a beer in hand,’ the 30-year-old said. ‘How good will that be, to experience it on the other side of the fence.

‘I’d also hope there’s a (number) seven that’s pushing me well out of it by that point.’

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper won’t play in the Championship opener against Argentina on Sunday and will return home due to personal reasons

Young gun Fraser McReight will look to fill the void in Hooper's absence for the Wallabies

Young gun Fraser McReight will look to fill the void in Hooper’s absence for the Wallabies 

That daunting job early on Sunday morning against Michael Cheika’s Pumas at the Estadio Malvinas in Mendoza goes to young gun Fraser McReight, long viewed as Hooper’s heir apparent.

The 23-year-old from the Queensland Reds will feature in his Third Test – but start for the first time.

Prop James Slipper will lead the Wallabies in Hooper’s absence.

In May, Hooper admitted his body still aches days after a match and that Father Time is catching up with the dynamic openside flanker, who first pulled on an Australian jersey in 2012 versus Scotland.

‘It is getting harder and harder and it’s like how much you are willing to take (pain) for the rewards,’ he said.

‘It is a slog at times, so you’ve just got to try to work that stuff out.’

Wallabies utility back Tom Wright joked this week he may wear goggles this weekend against Argentina in Mendoza to counter supporters pointing lasers in his direction

Wallabies utility back Tom Wright joked this week he may wear goggles this weekend against Argentina in Mendoza to counter supporters pointing lasers in his direction

It comes after Pumas supporters generated international headlines in 2014 when they pointed lasers at the eye of former Australian fly-half Bernard Foley (pictured) as he lined up to kick a penalty goal

It comes after Pumas supporters generated international headlines in 2014 when they pointed lasers at the eye of former Australian fly-half Bernard Foley (pictured) as he lined up to kick a penalty goal

Hooper approached Wallabies doctor Sharron Flahive on Thursday and said he was struggling with his mental health.

Coach Dave Rennie said it was an easy decision to let Hooper return to Australia, with his well-being the primary focus.

It is unknown if Hooper will feature in the Championship, which also features New Zealand and South Africa.

No time frame has been set on his return. 

‘While this decision did not come easily I know it is the right one for me and the team at this point in time,’ Hooper said in a statement.

‘My whole career I’ve looked to put the team first and I don’t feel I am able to fulfil my responsibilities at the moment in my current mindset.’

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