Michael Hooper announces retirement from Australian Rugby

Sun, Jun 30, 2024, 9:15 AM
Rugby Australia
by Rugby Australia

Wallaby number 859 and the 82nd Australian captain, Michael Hooper, has announced his retirement from Australian Rugby effective immediately.

One of the most decorated players in Australian Rugby history, Hooper has captained the Wallabies more than any other player, leading the men in gold on 69 occasions.

A Manly Roos junior on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Hooper was educated at St Pius X College, with a shoulder injury denying him the opportunity to represent the Australian Schoolboys.

It was merely a bump in the road and in 2010, Hooper made his Super Rugby debut for the ACT Brumbies against the Chiefs and would also go on to represent the Australian Under 20s in the same year and in 2011, captaining the side and winning player of the tournament in his second year.

Just a year later in 2012, as a 20-year-old, Hooper was selected to make his Test debut, coming off the pine against Scotland in Newcastle.

In 2013, Hooper joined the NSW Waratahs and captained the side in the absence of the injured Dave Dennis as they lifted the Super Rugby trophy for the first time just a year later.

Over his 10 seasons with the club, Hooper won a remarkable eight Matthew Burke Cups for the best Waratahs player of the year and still sits 10th on the all-time Super Rugby appearances record with 172 matches to his name.

Hooper first captained his country in 2014 as a 22-year-old, establishing himself as the youngest player to captain the side since Wallaby great Ken Catchpole in 1961 and the 82nd Wallabies skipper.

Known for his resilience and robustness, Hooper missed just six Tests, two of which he was left as an unused replacement, in his first six seasons of Test Rugby and made his 50th appearance for his country in the 2015 Rugby World Cup Semi Final, becoming the youngest Wallaby and second youngest player ever to reach the milestone at just 23 years and 61 days of age.

In 2020, the openside flanker became just the twelfth Wallaby to play 100 Tests and notably, had it not been for COVID-19, Hooper - who had been stuck on 99 caps for almost a whole year - would have become both the youngest and quickest Wallaby to become a Test centurion.

A year later he broke George Gregan’s record for the most appearances as Wallabies captain when he led the side out for the 60th time in the 30-18 victory over South Africa in Brisbane.

Individually, Hooper became the first player to win four John Eales Medals, a player-voted award for the Wallaby of the year, earning the accolade in 2013, 2016, 2020 and 2021 and sits fourth on the all-time Wallabies appearance list with 125 Tests to his name.

Twice nominated for the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year, Hooper represented the Wallabies at two Rugby World Cups and made the transition to the Australian Sevens at the end of 2023, making his debut in Hong Kong during the 2023-24 World Series.

“What a ride! My Olympic journey has come to an end, and with it, my Australian Rugby career. To the Aussie Sevens team, I wish you all the best you've been an awesome, helpful, and talented group of athletes to be part of,” Hooper said via a post on his Instagram account.

“As for my time in Australian Rugby, I'm grateful to my family and friends for their unwavering support throughout. We've shared an incredible journey, filled with unforgettable experiences, challenges, and memories. Thank you.”

Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh said: “Michael has been an incredible player and ambassador for our sport.”

“He leaves a legacy that will remember him as one of the greatest to wear the Wallaby gold and a favourite among Australian supporters.

“Michael's incredibly well respected here and around the world, and on behalf of Rugby Australia, I want to wish him and his family all the best for the future.”

Michael Hooper

Position: Openside flanker

Height: 182cm

Weight: 101kg

Born: 29 October, 1991

Place of birth: Sydney, NSW

Test debut: 2012 v Scotland in Newcastle

Test caps: 125

Super Rugby debut: 2010 v Chiefs in Melbourne (playing for the ACT Brumbies)

Super Rugby caps: 172; 141 (NSW Waratahs); 31 (ACT Brumbies)