Michael Hooper made the last of his 121 Test appearances against England in July
Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) - Australia flanker Michael Hooper said on Monday he was “excited” to be back with the squad after missing six games earlier this year due to the “rollercoaster” nature of Test rugby.
Hooper, 30, the Wallabies’ most capped skipper, withdrew on the eve of August’s Test against Argentina in Mendoza, saying he was not in the “right mindset” to lead his country.
He then sat out the remainder of the Rugby Championship before being included in the set-up for their upcoming tour of Europe.
“I’m excited to be back,” he told reporters from Australia’s training camp in Saint-Etienne, France.
“I’m realistic that there’s going to be some really good days and some days with the realities of travel and rugby and stuff will be difficult.
“It’s part of the journey, and doing what we do is that whole rollercoaster.
“I’m back in this position because I want to be here,” he added.
Experienced prop James Slipper has taken over as captain from Waratahs back-rower Hooper.
“What’s my stance on captaincy? First and foremost now, it’s complete support for Slipps,” Hooper said.
“He wants me to enjoy my rugby and compete.
“If I’m in a good space with those things then I’m probably going to be playing good rugby. And he’s happy with that,” he added.
Hooper could make his Test comeback against Scotland this Saturday, the day he turns 31.
The Wallabies then face France, Italy, Ireland and Wales on consecutive Saturdays from November 5 but Hooper refused to look as far ahead as next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
“Those experiences are amazing to be a part of. I’m also realistic, you can get injured going into a World Cup year and miss it,” he said.
“The World Cup’s a great cherry but I’m a player, I love competing, being a part of this team, it’s not a forever thing.
“I missed being out there with the team, representing. That was the lure and try to realise my potential in the game,” he added.