Rugby

Exclusive: Wallabies bombshell as skipper Hooper set to be ruled out of Argentina Test

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Wallabies co-captain Michael Hooper is set to miss Saturday’s crucial Rugby Championship Test against Michael Cheika’s Argentina Pumas in Parramatta.

The Roar can reveal the veteran openside flanker didn’t train on Wednesday.

A downcast Hooper was one of the last of the Wallabies to arrive at training and met Nic White on the edge of the group, where the pair gave each other a big hug and spoke privately.

It’s understood Hooper suffered a minor calf injury at training on Tuesday afternoon.

Michael Hooper of the Wallabies speaks to Rob Valetini during game three of the International Test match series between the Australia Wallabies and England at the Sydney Cricket Ground on July 16, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Michael Hooper is set to miss the Wallabies’ Test against Argentina. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Saturday’s Test was set to be the 31-year-old’s swansong in Sydney, with Hooper farewelling the Waratahs recently.

Whether he continues playing beyond this season remains to be seen, with Hooper to make a decision on whether he has a crack at playing at next year’s Olympics, heads overseas or hangs up the boots later this year.

The openside flanker started in his 125th Test during the Wallabies’ shocking 43-12 defeat to the Springboks last weekend.

Hooper struggled in the match, where he was bounced off three one-on-one tackles as the big bodies of Andre Esterhuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeulen attacked him first phase from lineout ball.

But the fact Jones became the fourth successive coach to appoint Hooper as captain, he is sharing the duties along with James Slipper in The Rugby Championship, reveals how highly regarded he is within the national set up.

How long Hooper is out for remains to be seen but given the Wallabies’ next Test is against the All Blacks in Melbourne on Saturday, July 29, means he will most likely be available for the two-Test Bledisloe series.

Pete Samu of Australia leads his teammates towards a restart during the Autumn International match between Italy and Australia at Stadio Artemio Franchi on November 12, 2022 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Timothy Rogers/Getty Images)

Pete Samu and Fraser McReight are the favourites to replace Michael Hooper. (Photo by Timothy Rogers/Getty Images)

Who replaces him is not yet known, with Fraser McReight likely to be called into the matchday 23 and challenge Pete Samu to wear the prized No.7 jersey.

Jones could also go left-field by selecting a bigger back-row and playing a Tom Hooper or Josh Kemeny-type figure in the No.7 jersey.

But the match shapes as the perfect opportunity to play McReight, who was one of Australia’s best in Super Rugby, in the Test against a big Los Pumas pack.

Jones will name his matchday team on Thursday.

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