Hooper to keep Wallabies captaincy under coach Rennie

Sydney (AFP) –


Flanker Michael Hooper will remain Wallabies captain under new coach Dave Rennie, Rugby Australia said Wednesday, ending speculation he would be replaced as the team looks to rebound from recent disappointments.

Rennie said he had been "hugely impressed" with Hooper, 28, who has captained the Wallabies in 46 of his 99 Tests.

"He's keen to lead and is highly respected by the Wallaby family -- in the end, his appointment was a straightforward decision," Rennie said in a statement.

The New Zealander took over in July with the Wallabies languishing at seventh in the rankings, a historic low, after being bundled out of last year's World Cup in the quarter-finals.

He promised a new broom this month when he named 16 uncapped players in a 44-man squad for the upcoming Test season, but was coy at the time about confirming Hooper as skipper.

His decision to stick with the veteran means Hooper will still be wearing the captain's armband for his 100th Test, when the Wallabies play New Zealand in Wellington on October 11.

Hooper relinquished the NSW Waratahs captaincy to Rob Simmons earlier this year to concentrate on his game, but said he wanted to stay on as Wallabies skipper, describing it as a "privilege".

"It's an absolute honour to be the Wallabies captain and I want to thank Dave, the Wallabies management team as well as Rugby Australia for their support and endorsement," he said.