Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has praised the courage shown by captain Michael Hooper as he withdraws from the national set-up for personal reasons.
Hooper addressed the team shortly before the first Test against Argentina in Mendoza in August 7, making the tough call to withdraw.
Hooper will head back to Australia with Waratahs and Manly teammate Dave Porecki, who is out for the rest of the Argentina tour after suffering a head knock.
“Nothing that was evident to us, how he trained and contributed around the team and leadership was excellent and clearly he’s been struggling and masking that well,” Rennie told reporters.
“It came to a head last night and he was brave enough to call Sharon (Flahive, Wallabies team doctor) and have a chat with her and then involved (team manager) Chris Webb and myself to get an understanding of where he is at...obviously he’s felt he can suppress things over the past handful of weeks so we certainly weren’t aware of things.
“He’s such a professional, he was able to get on and do his job. He address the team today which took enormous courage to let them know he’s not ok and felt it was best for himself and the team that he heads home.
“It was an easy decision to let him go home and he’ll get plenty of support around him.”
Dave Rennie refused to put a timeframe on his return, with no further player to be called into the squad.
Rennie and RA CEO Andy Marinos spoke to media on Saturday morning (AEST), praising the decision to get the support he needs.
“It’s not uncommon in life isn’t it? It’s a cross-section of society. Often men will say bugger all and suffer in silence,” Rennie said.
“It took a lot of courage to address the group so a huge amount of respect from everyone and respect that we want to get him home and give him as much support as possible.
“As an organisation, we want to make sure all of our athletes we can put the right structures and support networks behind them and I just want to compliment and shout out Michael because it’s been an incredibly brave path and decision he’s taken today,” RA CEO Andy Marinos added.
“I think he plays the game wearing his heart on his sleeve and emptying his tank and I think he really showed a sign of bravery on his side to come forward and let us know how he was feeling.
“We certainly will be continuing the support him.”