Wallabies captain Michael Hooper signs new five-year deal with Rugby Australia
Last Updated: 11/08/18 2:33pm
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has signed a five-year contract with Rugby Australia that will take him through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The 26-year-old flanker, who has won 82 caps, was due to be out of contract at the end of this year.
His new deal is reported to be worth £680,000 per season.
"I never really thought about going elsewhere or entertaining anything like that," said Hooper.
"I was really keen to stay in Australia, and keep doing what I can for the Wallabies and the Waratahs.
"I'm not really into contracts and all that back-and-forward, so to know that I'm sorted through to the next World Cup is really comforting."
Hooper's decision is a major boost to the domestic game, which struggles for fans and profile in a crowded sporting marketplace that also includes rugby league, soccer and Australian Rules.
He was eligible to seek a lucrative contract in Europe or Japan and still be available for selection for the Wallabies under 'Giteau's Law', an exemption to Rugby Australia's selection policy introduced ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Australia restricts Wallabies selection to those playing domestically but under the exemption, named after former utility back Matt Giteau, players contracted to overseas clubs can be picked if they have earned at least 60 Test caps.
"Michael is the type of person that you want to build your team around," said Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle.
"He offers so much both on and off the field. The length of the deal will be talked about but it's fair reward for a player like Michael.
"He was upfront in signalling that he wanted to commit to Australian rugby so we couldn't be more pleased to have him remain until at least 2023."
Hooper has been battling a hamstring injury sustained during the Test series against Ireland in June and missed the last few weeks of the Waratahs' Super Rugby season.
He returned to training with the Wallabies earlier this week and said he expected to be ready for the Rugby Championship opener against the All Blacks in Sydney on August 18, live on Sky Sports Action.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika welcomed Hooper's decision and said the young squad he had picked for the Rugby Championship would be able to learn from him.
"Michael's commitment to rugby in Australia and to the Wallabies is second to none," said Cheika.
"I know Michael can see the huge amount of young talent in the game that is coming through at the moment and I am sure it's a big part of why he would be committing to a long-term deal."