Michael Hooper has joined the short list of rugby players who can list two John Eales medals as the best player for the Wallabies, although Hooper was quick to proclaim that he would gladly exchange both of the medals for a Wallabies victory over the All Blacks in Auckland last weekend.
Hooper joins George Smith, Israel Folau and Nathan Sharpe.
The voting for the award, with votes cast in a 3 – 2 – 1 format by Wallabies players, stretches back 18 Tests. The margin for Hooper over his closest pursuer, David Pocock, was more than 100 votes.
Hooper has the potential to achieve a third John Eales medal, because he is only 24.
Hooper seems to be keeping the honour in its proper perspective, since this award was inaugurated in 2002, so winning twice, or even thrice, would not be anything along the lines of Makybe Diva’s three Melbourne Cup wins or Kingston Town’s three Cox Plates.
Hooper first won in 2013, following just his second year of Test rugby, during a brief career where he also claimed awards as Australia’s Super Rugby Player of the Year, Rugby Championship Strongest Performer, Wallabies’ Rookie of the Year in 2012 and Under-20s Player of the Year in 2011.