Rugby Championship: Wallabies captain Michael Hooper withdraws from Argentina clash for mental health

Captain Michael Hooper has withdrawn from Australia's Rugby Championship clash with Argentina at Mendoza and will return home, after informing coach Dave Rennie he was not in the right frame of mind to play.

Hooper trained with the team this week and was selected to play on Saturday, but informed management he wished to withdraw from the fixture and return to Australia.

"While this decision did not come easily, I know it is the right one for me and the team at this point in time," Hooper said.

"My whole career, I've looked to put the team first and I don't feel I am able to fulfill my responsibilities at the moment in my current mindset."

Prop James Slipper will lead the side in Hooper's absence, while his place in the team at flank has been taken by Fraser McReight.

"Michael's one of the most professional and impressive men I've coached," said Wallabies coach Dave Rennie. "I know this has been a difficult decision for him.

"He's shown true courage by acknowledging where he is at and acting on it."

Hooper has given no indication whether his decision to step away from the game is a temporary one or will be an extended break.

The 30-year-old made his test debut in 2012 and has played 121 times for the Wallabies. Last year, he passed George Gregan's record for the most tests as captain.

Michael Hooper in action for the Wallabies against England
Michael Hooper in action for the Wallabies against England. Photo credit: Getty Images

Some indifferent form for the team, including last year's autumn internationals and last month's 2-1 home series loss to England, put Hooper's captaincy in the spotlight, but he has given no specific explanation of his mindset issues.

With a little over a year to go until the Rugby World Cup in France, Hooper's future with the team now hangs in the balance and while Rugby Australia will support him, it will also be keen to hear his plans.

McReight is a solid replacement in the short term, after good form for Queensland Reds and a surprise omission from the England series.