Waratahs captain Michael Hooper rejects talk of player burnout

Michael Hooper runs in a fitness drill at a Waratahs Super Rugby training session. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Waratahs captain Michael Hooper is sure there won't be any burnout in the squad with returning Wallabies players given plenty of time to recover from the Rugby World Cup.

Twenty-two Waratahs players took part in last year's World Cup defeat by New Zealand, including fly-half Bernard Foley, who has subsequently been plying his trade with Ricoh Black Rams in Japan's Top League, but Hooper rejected talk of player burnout in the squad.

"I'm just seeing [Bernard Foley] rolling around in the snow up in Japan, so it looks like he's having a ball at the moment," Hooper said.

"I don't think there is any fear of burnout. We've got great physical back-up here with our staff, and they're doing a great job of keeping us on the field.

"The guys are fit, guys are good to go, and our game's at such a professional state at the moment that more guys are staying on the field and it's great to have that competition around here."

Questioned about his own return to the field, Hooper said he was ready to go after one of his longest breaks from the paddock.

"Unfortunately I can't really pick and choose, so whenever I come in this year I'll be raring to go.

"We had a great break, [the] longest break any of us have ever had I think, so we're raring to go, bodies good. We're getting fit here and just enjoying doing that hard work. It's narrowing down to the season; it's going to come around before we know it."

Hooper's accession to the Waratahs captaincy on Wednesday is just one of the many changes, with a new head coach, Daryl Gibson, and the loss of several players overseas, but the 24-year-old skipper said there wasn't a feeling of a complete new start within the side.

"I think over the past three years our mentality has been to build something going forward, take something from the year before and go with it," he said.

"You never want a clean slate otherwise you forget what you did well in the years previous. So we went short last year, so we take a great learning from that and move into the next year. If we forget about everything we're not going to improve, so we're all about doing the hard stuff to get the results."

The Waratahs went all the way to secure their inaugural Super Rugby title in 2014 before falling short in 2015 with a semi-final defeat by the Highlanders, and Hooper is certain they can get back to the top despite the new competition format.

"We don't plan on losing," he said. "We're all about winning here and we've created a great culture here over the last three years to do that and maintain that.

"Our eyes are forward, the new guys that have come in have seen that build over the past three years and are excited to put their stamp on it and get in jerseys. So you can't not breed good competition from that, and the crop we have, the guys who are leaders here are pushing, everyone's pushing ... we're all excited to get into the games."