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Genia to battle Hooper for Eales gong

AAP logoAAP 26/10/2016 Matt Encarnacion

Reborn scrumhalf Will Genia could be the man to prevent Michael Hooper claiming his second John Eales medal on Thursday on Australian rugby's night of nights in Sydney.

Hooper, who won the prestigious players' player award in 2013, is considered by many as the raging favourite to take out the prize after a stellar Wallabies campaign this year.

However, despite injury preventing Genia playing in the Wallabies' three-Test series against England in June, he could be a dark horse to steal the crown.

David Pocock, Bernard Foley and reigning back-to-back medallist Israel Folau are also in contention for the major gong at Randwick Racecourse.

A Genia win would make him the first No.9 to win the gong in the medal's 14-year history.

The 29-year-old was arguably the Wallabies' best player in the Rugby Championship, including a man-of-the-match, two-try performance in a win last month over Argentina.

But he'll have to poll almost perfectly from his teammates to oust Hooper, who has started at openside flanker in all 10 Tests so far this year.

The NSW Waratahs' captain scored three tries in the series against England, and was best-on-ground in the Wallabies' win over South Africa, also last month.

Should Hooper claim the prize, he would join George Smith, Nathan Sharpe and Folau as the only players to have won the medal twice.

The Wallabies, who depart on Friday for their European spring tour, have won just three of their 10 Tests in 2016.

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