Hooper 'excited' to return to Wallabies fold – Rennie

Michael Hooper will return from personal leave to join the Wallabies on their northern hemisphere tour, however, Dave Rennie has confirmed James Slipper will retain the captaincy.The 30-year-old hasn't played since he pulled out of the squad on the eve of the Wallabies' Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in August.Hooper did not specify the reasons behind his withdrawal but the Test centurion said he was not in the right frame of mind to play.Coach Dave Rennie named a 36-man squad on Sunday that included Hooper, but said prop Slipper would continue as captain for the five-Test tour.Rennie suggested Hooper will likely fill a similar role to at club level, with scrumhalf Jake Gordon serving as captain whilst the flanker 'leads by example.'"It's great news from our perspective. He's really excited about travelling and playing," Rennie said of Hooper."He's done a lot of work in the last wee while and been training with our Sydney-based boys for the last couple of weeks, but we're keen for him to come in and just focus on himself."We know he'll lead by example and he'll contribute from outside that leadership group and that's really important for us."Rennie selected five uncapped players, with Melbourne Rebels prop Sam Talakai and NSW's five-eighth Ben Donaldson and outside back Mark Nawaqanitawase included for the first time.Donaldson and Nawaqanitawase impressed in the Australia A program in Fiji and Japan alongside Jock Campbell and Langi Gleeson, the other two players who could debut in Europe.Code-hopper Suliasi Vunivalu was the biggest omission after failing to take his chances in Australia A's recent matches against Japan, casting doubt on his participation in next year's Rugby World Cup.Veterans Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor as well as young No.8 Harry Wilson were also left out.Rennie has chosen two overseas-based players in the squad, with La Rochelle lock Will Skelton recalled after appearing in all three games off the bench in last year's spring tour."He's had a massive impact at La Rochelle and when they won the European Cup last year it was on the back of Will playing the house down," Rennie said."He's a big man who bullies other big men, and 140-odd kilos behind your tight-head prop's handy at scrum time … we're really excited to get him in."Japan-based five-eighth Bernard Foley, who made his return to the Test arena in the Bledisloe Cup series last month, is the other foreign-based player chosen.The side will kick off their campaign with a Test against Scotland in Edinburgh before their first match against France in Paris since 2016.They then face Italy in Florence before Tests against Ireland in Dublin and Wales in Cardiff to round out their 2022 season.The squad will assemble in Sydney on Tuesday before embarking on the five-game tour the following day.Click Here: Kangaroos Rugby League Jersey

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