Michael Hooper has been named Australia’s best player by his peers, taking his third John Eales Medal despite a poor season by the Wallabies under his captaincy.
HOOPER BEAT MARIKA KOROIBETE TO THE AWARD
The 29-year-old flank, who is heading for a six-month stint with Japanese Top League side Toyota Verblitz in early 2021, won back the award from wing Marika Koroibete, who came second.
Veteran prop James Slipper was third in the voting ahead of scrumhalf Nic White and versatile back Reece Hodge.
“Michael is an incredible rugby player, an outstanding captain and an excellent leader on-and-off the field,” said Rugby Australia interim chief Rob Clarke.
“The way he conducts himself is a credit to him and the values he lives his life by, and we congratulate him on his achievement.”
DISPPOINTING YEAR FOR THE WALLABIES
The awards capped a disappointing coronavirus-shortened Test season for Australia under new coach Davie Rennie, which ended with just one win and three draws from six internationals.
It saw Hooper’s captaincy questioned in the media, forcing him to defend his tactics and leadership.
In other awards, Reds prop Taniela Tupou, known as “Tongan Thor”, was named Australian Super Rugby player of the year while team-mate and back-rower Harry Wilson won the Rookie of the Year.