SYDNEY, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Michael Hooper will lead the Wallabies out for his 100th test next month after new Australia coach Dave Rennie announced on Wednesday the 28-year-old would retain the captaincy for this season.
Rennie, who on Tuesday oversaw his first training session since taking over from Michael Cheika last year, had previously declined to confirm the openside flanker in the position he has held since 2014.
Hooper has played 46 tests as captain, including through two World Cup campaigns, and while no one would question his work rate or commitment, his on-field judgement and ability to get on with referees have been criticised at times.
“I’ve been really impressed with Hoops,” Rennie said in a news release.
“We’ve spoken a lot over the past nine months and it’s highlighted his passion and commitment. He’s a good man with an outstanding work ethic and he’s a great role model for our young men coming through.
“In the end his appointment was a straightforward decision.”
Hooper will become the 12th Australian to play 100 tests in the first Bledisloe Cup clash against the All Blacks in Wellington next month.
“It’s a privilege to wear the Wallabies jersey, I feel proud to lead my team mates and to represent those players that have gone before and all Australians,” said Hooper.
“I’m really excited about this group and the direction we are heading. We have already spent some quality time together, defining who we are and what we stand for and what we plan to achieve in the coming months.”
Twice world champions Australia are a lowly seventh in the test rankings and were well beaten by England in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Japan last year.
The squad departs their training camp in the Hunter Valley on Friday for New Zealand, where they will quarantine before making their final preparations for back-to-back tests against the All Blacks on Oct. 11 and 18.
Editing by Peter Rutherford
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