Hooper makes history with record fourth John Eales Medal

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has become the first player to be awarded Australia’s player of the year title for a fourth time after he was named the 2021 John Eales Medallist on Sunday.

With the win, Hooper, who previously claimed the award in 2013, 2016 and 2020, moves ahead of Israel Folau as the most successful player on the all-time list.

“It’s extremely humbling to be awarded the John Eales Medal in a year where there were so many stand out performances across the squad,” Hooper said in a statement.

“Players certainly don’t play the game for individual awards but there’s no doubt it’s special to be recognised by your teammates in this way.

“As a group we made some good strides last year but there’s still plenty to improve on and I’m looking forward to doing that with the Waratahs and the Wallabies this season.”

The John Eales medal was voted for by all Wallabies players upon the conclusion of each game in the 2021 season and is the highest individual honour in Australian rugby union.

Hooper’s win comes after the flanker broke George Gregan’s record for the most matches as Wallabies captain, with the 30-year-old leading the Australians 65 times in his 118 test appearances.

He scored two tries and led Australia on a five-game winning streak before picking up an injury during the Wallabies’ loss to England at Twickenham in November that brought a premature end to his season.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Kim Coghill)

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