Phil Hughes dead: Michael Hooper hopes Australia can pay tribute to Hughes with black armbands against England this weekend

Hooper and the rest of the Wallabies team enjoyed a dinner with the cricket side this year, and admits Hughes' death is 'news you never want to wake up to'

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The Independent Online

Australia’s rugby captain Michael Hooper has joined tributes to cricketer Phil Hughes, ahead of the team’s match against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

“It’s news you never want to wake up to,” he said. “For us as a team its a pretty sombre mood.

“A lot of us have met the cricket team and know them well. For us too see what’s happened is very tough.

Phil Hughes died last night, after being struck in the back of the head by a fast bouncer during a match in Sydney. Rugby, like cricket, is a dangerous sport. In both cases, Hooper said, the fear factor is part of the game. “It’s in the back of your mind, that risk element. But to push yourself and challenge yourself, that’s what life about.”

He confirmed the team would play in black armbands “if they were allowed to”.

“This news is a reminder of how lucky you are to play for your country,” he said. “This is a great thing we do, to represent Australia. To wear a black armband, and to look down at it, we’ll be thinking of him and his family, knowing the job we have to do.

“The variety of people that have come through with messages - musicians, athletes, members of the public. Australia loves its sport to see these messages coming through shows, positively, what our nation is about.”

Michael-Hooper.jpg
Australia captain Michael Hooper

Hooper said he hadn’t met Mr Hughes personally, but added: “We had a dinner with the cricket lads over the summer, when they were doing promotional and media related things coming into their season. It was a good fun evening, sitting down with the guys. It’s a completely different sport but it’s a similar situation, the amount of time we are away from our families.”

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