Brumbies respect Hooper's defection

Brumbies respect Hooper's defection

Michael Hooper will be given a fair chance to make the ACT Brumbies No.7 jersey his own this season despite defecting to the NSW Waratahs.

The Brumbies only found out Hooper had finalised a deal with the Waratahs when they landed in South Africa late on Monday night.

Michael Hooper of the Brumbies scores during the round eight Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Rebels at Canberra Stadium earlier this month.

Michael Hooper of the Brumbies scores during the round eight Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Rebels at Canberra Stadium earlier this month.Credit:Getty Images

It's a major blow to the Brumbies' ranks with Hooper having established himself as one of the best openside flankers in the game in the opening rounds of the Super Rugby season.

White was so keen to keep the talented youngster he offered Hooper a new contract before a game had been played this year.


But while he was disappointed one of his young stars had decided to leave, he insisted he held no grudges and Hooper would be given a chance to cement his spot in the Brumbies starting XV.

''I enjoy him, he works hard and he's a wonderful guy to have around the club,'' White said.

''I really wanted him to stay on, but in his defence he hasn't done anything wrong and he hasn't been under-handed.

''It's only fair I treat Hoops with the respect he has shown us as an organisation.

''He's done nothing wrong, I think he deserves to be treated as a Brumby for this year.

''It's not like I'm not interested in him because he's moving on. He's got a job and he has to do as well as he can and if he does that he'll be in contention for selection.''

Hooper will likely retain his spot in the Brumbies starting side for their clash with the Pretoria Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday morning Canberra time.

However, White could opt for a monster back row of Fotu Auelua, Ita Vaea and skipper Ben Mowen.

Hooper was the Australian under-20s player of the year last year and was seen as the Brumbies' long-term replacement to George Smith.

White has also used Vaea in the No.7 role this year, but the Tongan powerhouse is not a traditional ball fetcher.

Colby Faingaa is still recovering from a pre-season ankle injury.

He is an impressive open-side flanker with the ability to play anywhere in the back row.

Faingaa made his return from an ankle injury last week, but he is not ready to return to Super Rugby after pulling up sore.

The Brumbies could explore the possibility of signing another specialist No.7, but White will wait to assess how his team performs before deciding if he needs to recruit anyone.

Western Force skipper David Pocock is off contract at the end of the season, but it is not known whether he will decide to stay in Perth or move to a new franchise.

White backed Faingaa to improve under forwards coach Laurie Fisher and challenge Hooper for the starting spot at the end of the year.

''I understand [Hooper's] situation and who knows, maybe one day he will come back to the Brumbies in the future,'' White said.

''He's one of our key players, but we also have Colby [Faingaa] there.

''Credit to Hoops, but in all fairness people weren't talking about him last year.

''I think it shows the strength of our program and the way we're developing players and Laurie Fisher has really worked hard with those guys at the breakdown.

''It's not ideal, but I praise Laurie for the progress Hoops has made there and there's no reason we can't get Colby to compete for that jersey.''



Super Rugby round nine: Pretoria Bulls v ACT Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld, 3.10am.

TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2.

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