Tom Hooper making his own name as latest Wallabies cult hero

Thu, Sep 14, 2023, 6:25 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Tom Hooper is becoming one of the key Wallabies of the future. Photo: Getty Images
Tom Hooper is becoming one of the key Wallabies of the future. Photo: Getty Images

When Tom Hooper starts rattling off one-liners, he isn’t the next Nick Cummins—rather the first Tom Hooper.

"No, he's got a lot better quotes than I do,” the humble Hooper says to reporters after ten minutes of them in hysterics after one-liner after one-liner.

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"…I’m not as country as him. He’s a lot more country…just Bathurst, not that far out.”

The 22-year-old has all the characteristics of a cult hero. One liners? Tick. Plays like a man possessed? Tick. A warming, earnest personality that connects with people instantly? Big Tick.

Hooper is the type of guy to stop a press conference just to shake a reporter's hand when he finds out they’re from the same area.

He leaves the room and gives everyone that same warm handshake and even a selfie for one of them, with a look in his eye that he understands he’s just made a room full of media hang off his every word with his natural larrikin charm.

Hooper tasted his first win in the gold jersey last weekend, playing 80 minutes in the 35-15 win over Georgia.

"Winner’s piss is better than loser’s piss,” Hooper said. 

"Got a couple of beers, got around the boys. Obviously, we weren’t getting too ahead of ourselves, but it’s important to celebrate those and connect as a team. I had a beer or two with Suli on the night and then we tucked each other into the bed and we’re onto the next job. 

"We’re in the honeymoon stage. So everyone’s happy as Larry.”

It's important to note that whilst the quips are all fun and games, Hooper doesn’t shy away from responsibility or accountability, putting his hand up for the misfiring lineout towards the end of the match after stepping up as the caller.

“I've got to chuck my hand up there and cop that one on the chin,” he admits.

“Eddie was really good (about it). He came up to me after the game and said it was an unfamiliar role for me and definitely throughout the course of this World Cup, I'm not going to be first choice lineout caller, but I might find myself back there.

“…It’s great to have that versatility, but it's a combination that we need to work on and another one was just an absolute brain fart from me when I almost headbutted Robbie Valetini and they won it clean.”

He symbolises the attitude that you want out of a young player, hungry to get better and have another crack at it.

“Definitely, hit the nail on the head next time,” he said.

It’s easy to see why Eddie Jones is a big fan. Hooper told before the tournament about their relationship and the backrower gave another gem of wisdom about how Jones looks to fire him up during the week even after a win.

"He's still the same old Eddie, he'll never change,” he explained 

“He had down there doing a couple of tackles before, he said 'Hoops, (have) you made a good tackle yet today?’ So he got into me.

“Then I was running into big Langi (Gleeson), one of our big Fijians and god he can run and tackle and Eddie said 'Mate you gotta pretend like you're running to the Oberon bottle shop', which is my local bottle shop so yeah, he still is still up my up my backside making sure I'm doing the hard yards and it's good.

“I love it, that's how we're gonna get better.”

As for how he looks to unwind off the field: “I’ve lost a bit of money on pool, which, yeah, my missus (and fellow Brumby Gabby Petersen) won’t be too happy about,” Hooper joked. “But that’s all right, I’ll win it back. That’s what every gambler says.

“We’ve just been playing a bit pool, just a bit of fun and games, boys have a dartboard out there. So just low-key stuff really, just connecting. It's good.”

Hooper on:

His captain Will Skelton:

"I've never felt so small when I met him. My hand felt like a baby's hand."

Nick Frost and his ear injury:

"He's running out there with a water polo cap on, so he's got a little bit of a home job, cut a hole in the head gear, put a water polo cap on. So he's 'MacGyver'd' and is doing really well."

His family making the trip over:

"They're on the flight. I don't know how dad's knees are going but he's up in the air at the moment.”

Playing at a World Cup:

"I knew there was 75,000 people watching on the weekend. But if you asked me out there, I wouldn't have been able to tell you. There were a couple of blokes in Budgie Smugglers, didn't even see them - I would have had a chuckle in the game if I saw that.