Eagle Hooley facing 'ultimate challenge' after helping Saracens gain promotion
Full back Will Hooley helped Saracens regain their Premiership status and now faces the “ultimate challenge” in a US Eagles team that has not played together for nearly two years and faces England and Ireland in the space of six days.
Hooley’s experience and goal kicking will be vital against England on Sunday – American Independence Day – with the Eagles having lost AJ MacGinty, their captain and outside half, who suffered a serious knee injury in Sale’s failed bid for the Premiership title. His loss removes a key points scoring weapon from the American arsenal and a way of getting onto the scoreboard at Twickenham and the Aviva Stadium on July 10.
These two difficult assignments will help prepare the Eagles for their 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifying games with Canada in September and not having played together since the World Cup in Japan only increases the problems facing head coach Gary Gold and his players.
Cambridge-born Hooley qualifies for the USA through his grandmother and was a member of the England U20 Junior World Cup-winning squad in 2013 alongside Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell.
The 15-cap full-back said: “I know that having been with US Rugby for a period we need to be taking on teams like England and Ireland and we cannot just rock up to a World Cup having only played a couple of games against Tier 1 nations in the intervening four years. Playing these nations will only make us better and I realise this summer is going to be tough as we haven’t seen each other as a squad since the 2019 World Cup so it is the ultimate challenge – but we have nothing to lose.
“Attitude can go a long way and it will be right up there and we need to know where we stand heading into the World Cup qualifying games. I know we were in a tough group ( England, France, Argentina, and Tonga) at the 2019 World Cup but we underachieved. I know what we were capable of and we didn’t fire the shots we wanted at the tournament.”
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