New coach Dave Rennie says Michael Hooper is not guaranteed a place in the Wallabies’ starting lineup nor the captaincy.
Rennie has come in as Australia’s head coach after Michael Cheika was given the boot following the team’s disappointing 2019 World Cup campaign.
In his first official press briefing as Wallabies boss, Rennie spoke candidly about his future plans, saying he is going to ‘wipe the slate clean’ before selecting his first Test squad and deciding on his captain.
‘I’ll be on the other side of the world but we’ll be constantly, weekly, talking about where the team’s at, individuals, we’ll constantly pick what we think will be a starting group, so that will fluctuate based on form,’ Rennie revealed.
‘I’ve had no real thought around who’s going to be captain or when we’re going to decide that. The key thing for me is about earning the right. All those guys are going to have to play really well to make the team and then we’ll decide who the captain will be. It’s a clean slate.’
Hooper first led the Wallabies in 2014 after then captain Stephen Moore suffered a season ending injury. Hooper was then made the permanent captain in 2017 when Moore retired. But Rennie is adamant the flank has to perform at Vodacom Super Rugby level in order to be in contention for selection and the leadership role.
‘What I know about him [Hooper], he’s a good man, he’s got a massive work ethic, he’ll be desperate to make the Wallabies side, and so his job is to show us that in Super Rugby,’ Rennie explained.
‘I spoke to Hoops yesterday. He seemed like he is in a really good headspace, he has obviously had a break and come back in really good nick. He is very excited contribute, he will still contribute in meetings just without the [c] tag next to him.
‘But the message we will be giving everyone is you have got to earn the right to play so we will be picking guys based on Super Rugby form.’
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