As the founding member of Australian rugby’s most exclusive club, David Campese knows better than most just how fortunate Michael Hooper is to be playing his 100th Test for the Wallabies.
The current Test captain, Hooper will become just the 12th Australian to reach the magical milestone when he leads the Wallabies out against New Zealand on Sunday.
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No-one has worn the Wallaby gold jersey with more pride than Campese and 24 years after he became the first Australian to achieve the feat, he’s still full of admiration for everyone who follows in his footsteps.
“It’s an honour every time you play for Australia so you never start your career thinking you’re going to play 100 Tests because there are so many factors outside of your control,” Campese said.
Hooper has always allowed his actions to do the talking on the field.Source:Getty Images
“I’ve heard some people say that you’ve got to be lucky to get to 100 caps but there’s no luck involved.
“It’s a very, very hard thing to do because you’ve got to play 99 Tests before you can get to 100 so you must have been pretty good to do that.
“It also takes a lot of determination and mental strength because there’s always ups and downs along the way and you can see with Hoops that he’s just one of those players that keeps working hard.”
Campese played his 100th Test in 1996 — more than 14 years after he made his debut, against the All Blacks in 1982.
Hooper shows no signs of slowing down as he closes on the century mark.Source:Getty Images
Legendary David Campese is chaired off by teammates after his 100th Test.Source:News Corp Australia
The Wizard of Oz was already a legend of the game — a member of the 1984 grand slam side, a World Cup winner in 1991 and the world record holder for the most Test tries.
His ability to score tries seemingly out of nothing made him a hero to generations but even he had to battle to get to triple figures after falling foul of the selectors.
“In my first year, in 1982, Australia only played three Tests so playing 100 was never really on the radar until late in my career and there were a few selectors who didn’t really want me to get there,” he said.
“I’d have loved to have played my 100th at the Sydney Cricket Ground because it was the best stadium I ever played at but I ended up getting my 100th cap in Italy, where I spent many years. And then (Wallaby coach) Greg Smith dropped me for the next two matches before I played my final test against Wales.”
Hooper made his Test debut in 2012 so will reach the milestone in eight years — almost twice as fast as Campese — and with no signs of slowing down.
At his brutal best, Hooper flies over a maul to try to gain possession.Source:News Corp Australia
At 28, he’s still the Wallabies’ first-choice openside flanker and Campese says he wouldn’t be surprised if Hooper finishes his career as Australia’s most-capped player, surpassing George Gregan’s record of 139 appearances.
“Hoops deserves all the accolades he gets because he’s just so resilient, he keeps on going,” Campese said.
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“He’s been fortunate not to get injured a lot because that obviously doesn’t help but he’s just been a player who leads by example, not by talking a lot, but through his actions.
“It’s important when you’re part of an Australian team that other players respect you as well and you can see that with Hoops.
“He’s also one of those players that all the kids look up to as well and you can tell he just enjoys playing the game and that’s probably the most important thing for him. No-one ever knows how long you’re going to be a Wallaby for but it’s always just for a short time so you might as well enjoy it and don’t leave anything on the paddock.”
Originally published asHoopla Hooper: Wallaby on track to smash ultimate record
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