Michael Hooper wins John Eales Medal as Australia's top player

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Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper
Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Michael Hooper was named Australian rugby union's best player by his peers on Tuesday, taking out his third John Eales Medal despite a poor season by the Wallabies under his captaincy.

The 29-year-old flanker, who is heading for a six-month stint with Japanese Top League side Toyota Verblitz in the new year, won back the award from wing Marika Koroibete, who came second.

Veteran prop James Slipper was third in the voting ahead of scrumhalf Nic White and versatile back Reece Hodge.

"Michael is an incredible rugby player, an outstanding captain and an excellent leader on-and-off the field," said Rugby Australia interim chief Rob Clarke.

"The way he conducts himself is a credit to him and the values he lives his life by, and we congratulate him on his achievement."

The awards capped a disappointing coronavirus-shortened Test season for Australia under new coach Davie Rennie, which ended with just one win and three draws from six internationals.

It saw Hooper's captaincy questioned in the media, forcing him to defend his tactics and leadership.

In other awards, Queensland Reds prop Taniela Tupou, known as "Tongan Thor", was named Australian Super Rugby player of the year while team-mate and back-row forward Harry Wilson won the Rookie of the Year.

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