‘One of the best to do it’: McReight pays tribute to Hooper after Aussie Rugby retirement

Mon, Jul 1, 2024, 5:40 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Michael Hooper has been nominated for World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year

Wallabies flanker Fraser McReight has labelled departing legend Michael Hooper as one of the all-time greats as he looks to make the seven jersey his own.

Hooper announced his retirement from Australian Rugby on Sunday after moving to Sevens for a spot in the Olympic squad.

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25-year-old McReight has been the heir apparent to Hooper since the former Junior Wallabies captain took Australia to the Final of the Junior World Championships in 2019.

Sporadic appearances off the bench for the Wallabies would eventually lead to McReight getting his maiden start in 2022 when Hooper took time from the game for mental health reasons.

The two remain close with McReight taking the chance to praise Hooper for his impact on the game.

“He’s one of the best to do it," McReight said to reporters.

“You look at the record and the numbers don’t lie what he’s been able to do. It’s pretty remarkable and I wish him all the best.

“I sent him a message (after the news) and it was great for me to learn under him.

“…I think what Hoops did is he gave 110% with everything he did, whether that was training, meetings, he was known for that competitiveness. It wasn’t just a thing that happened on Saturday, he showed it throughout the week. As a young player, that was something I took away.”

McReight found himself in and out of the famous seven jersey in 2023 before establishing the position as his own during the World Cup.

The openside flanker spot for the Wallabies has been a conveyor belt of legends in Australian Rugby, with the likes of Hooper, David Pocock, George Smith and Phil Waugh creating a legacy for the jersey that McReight looks to add too.

“There’s been a lot of talk about and it’s a very special jersey to be in so obviously that’s the end goal," he said.

“Before there, there’s a lot of work to do with the new coaching group so the focus is how Joe operates and how this team operates and tries to get better.”

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