Superstar Wallabies Captain Michael Hooper Quits Australian Rugby In Huge Move

Sabbatical.

Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Rugby Union have today confirmed that Michael Hooper will take up an overseas playing opportunity with Japanese team Toyota Verblitz for the first six months of 2021.

The move will see him play alongside former All Blacks captain Kieran Read and link up with former New Zealand boss Steve Hansen who is director of rugby at the Top League side.

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The provision of a six-month release was a feature of the interim player pay deal agreed to between the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) and Rugby Australia in April of this year for a specified number of current players and followed the COVID-19 health and financial crisis.

The 99-Test Wallaby will miss most of the 2021 Super Rugby campaign with an opportunity to return to complete the season for the NSW Waratahs before the Wallabies 2021 Test calendar.

Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper said:

“This is a great opportunity for me to learn in a new Rugby environment and develop a different perspective on the game.

“I’m really excited in the direction of Rugby in Australia both at a Super Rugby level and at the Wallabies too under Dave (Rennie). The Super Rugby AU competition this year has unearthed some really good young talent and they are all keeping me on my toes.”

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Rugby Australia’s Interim Chief Executive Rob Clarke said:

“We’re incredibly supportive of Michael making this move in the first half of 2021.

“It’s a prudent decision, especially for someone who has been a devoted servant to the domestic game here in Australia for over 10 years now.

“While he will head overseas for the first six months of next year, Michael has made it abundantly clear how committed he is to Australian Rugby until at least the Rugby World Cup in 2023.”