Michael Hooper Stands Down From Tests Against Argentina Over Mindset Concerns

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper will not play in the Rugby Championship opener against Argentina and will return home for personal reasons.

While the development may shock some rugby fans, the signs have been ominous for some time now.

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

“I’ll be sitting 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 also hope there’s a (number) seven that will push me out of it well by then.”

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper will not play in the Championship opener against Argentina on Sunday and will return home for personal reasons

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

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

The 23-year-old from the Queensland Reds will participate in his third test, but he will start for the first time.

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

In May, Hooper admitted that his body still hurts days after a game and that Vadertje Time is catching up with the dynamic open-sided flanker, who first donned an Australian jersey against Scotland in 2012.

“It gets harder and harder and it’s just how much you’re willing to take (pain) for the rewards,” he said.

“It’s a struggle sometimes, so you have to try and work that out.”

Wallabies utility Tom Wright joked this week that he will be allowed to wear goggles this weekend against Argentina in Mendoza to prevent supporters from pointing lasers in his direction

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

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 return Hooper to Australia, putting his well-being first.

It is not known whether Hooper will participate in the championship, which will also include New Zealand and South Africa.

No time frame has been set for his return.

“While this decision didn’t come easy, I know it’s the right one for me and the team right now,” Hooper said in a statement.

“All my career I’ve tried to put the team first and I don’t feel like I’m capable of fulfilling my responsibilities in my current way of thinking at the moment.”

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