Michael Hooper open to reduced workload

Brittany MitchellESPN Assistant Editor3 Minute Read

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Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is open to the idea of more management of player workloads, after playing almost every minute in 2017.

Hooper is known as an 80-minute man who regularly plays out full games for both New South Wales Waratahs and Australia, playing a combined 175 Super Rugby and Test matches in 301 weeks since 2012, but he sees the "sense in managing the work load for not only myself but for other players".

Hooper said that he understood also the additional benefit of blooding less-experienced replacements at "the pointy end" of a game, as that would mean teams had players more able to step up in the absence of stars.

"God forbid we have any injuries like [the Waratahs] had Bernard [Foley] at the start of last year," Hooper said.

"We've [then] got a player that can come in and really do a good job. There's a lot of sense to being able to have players in those positions for sure."

The Waratahs have a good record against the Reds.Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Asked if he'd thought about taking time away from rugby, in order to prolong his career, as Israel Folau and David Pocock have done, Hooper said his two-month break after the Wallabies' tour of Europe was long enough to get him refreshed.

"We had a pretty good break," Hooper said. "Right now I'm very far away from another break, so coming off the one that I just had was a good amount of time off.

"I'm feeling really refreshed so right now my mind's on footy. I'm really enjoying being in at the Waratahs ... I'm excited about what Super Rugby has ahead for us."

Pocock, who is returning from his year-long sabbatical, meanwhile said that he was "grateful" to Rugby Australia for giving him the opportunity to step away from the game in Australia.

"I was very grateful for the way that they [Rugby Australia] were open to it, and were pretty creative and allowed me to get away for a year," Pocock said.

"Coming back you want to get back to your best, so I've enjoyed getting back to things at the Brumbies. They've got a great team that I've obviously worked with a lot in the past. The goal is to get back out there and enjoy the rugby."

Pocock said the time away had also given him a chance to reflect and find a new perspective on playing the game at a professional level.

"It gives you some perspective," Pocock said of his break.

"You realise that [rugby] is, at the end of the day, just a game and there's more to life. Christian Leali'ifano going through what he's gone through [Leukaemia treatment], you realise it's a game to be enjoyed. On the other side of that, you realise what a privilege it is to do what you do."