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Michael Hooper embracing ‘unusual’ sevens challenge ahead of Olympics bid

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Rugby fans around the world have all watched, admired and celebrated Michael Hooper’s illustrious Wallabies career which of course ended in heartbreak earlier this year after being overlooked for the World Cup squad.

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But now it’s time for rugby fans – both old and new – to look ahead to the new-look HSBC SVNS season in 2023/24 with Rugby Australia confirming that Hooper has switched to the sport’s shorter format.

With one eye on the Olympic Games in Paris, the four-time John Eales medallist for Wallabies Players’ Player of the Year will embark on an exciting new rugby chapter at 32 years of age.

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Hooper, who is the most-capped Wallabies captain in history, will join the likes of Dietrich Roache, Henry Paterson, Josh Turner and Maurice Longbottom in the Aussie Sevens team on January 1st.

While the former Wallaby won’t be available for the upcoming Dubai and Cape Town Sevens, Hooper is set to debut in Aussie Sevens gold at the Perth Sevens on Australia Day (January 26).

But for a player who will eventually retire as one of the most individually decorated players in Australian rugby history, Hooper will need to get used to “a lot of running” ahead of the Perth event and beyond.

“A lot of running, a lot of running – it’s the most I’ve ever seen,” Hooper said on Channel 9’s The Today Show on Thursday.

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“I start in Jan, so the first competition is going to be Perth at the end of that month. It’s going to be a new challenge – I think that’s what’s so exciting for me.

“I’ve done 15s for so long, I’ve been lucky to play in a Wallaby jersey for so long but to get into a sevens tournament with the potential to go to the Olympics, it’s pretty exciting stuff.”

It’s been a massive morning for SVNS with France captain Antoine Dupont set to miss the Six Nations as the world-class halfback targets Olympic gold on home soil.

Hooper and Dupont and both looking to create history at the Paris Games as they look to help their teams secure the first Olympic medal for their nations in men’s rugby sevens history.

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“It would be an amazing experience (but) there’s so much water under the bridge to go to being in that environment,” Hooper added.

“I’ve done a couple of days training with these guys and they’re hungry, they’re all about 22, they can run forever. I’m one of the bigger guys in the team which is very unusual.

“It’s going to be great.”

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Comments

4 Comments
B
Burger 248 days ago

Aplarently Rassie is going to take over the SA SVNS coaching until after the Olympics. Guess still no gold medal for Dupont. The genius will cause havoc in SVNS.
On a more serious note, I just don't feel it's right for players to just switch codes for an Olympic medal chance - other dedicated 7s players lose out to big names after grafting for three years on circuit. Cannot be good for team morale.

J
Jon 248 days ago

Rugby Sevens has long been handicapped by 15s, with the leading nations not giving it much of a look.

Enough that I do wonder what the game would be like if it was more competitive. Currently, it’s not my jam, by I did grow up loving the Hong Kong 7’s and Wellington 7’s. At least in the early days when it was easy for the best athletes to play both 15’s and 7s.

I’m not one to believe that Sevens out grew that era, that it became too professional, or hard for 15s to be as good as dedicated Sevens players. So I think it’s great that these guys are giving it a go and expect them to kill it in 7s, and for me to wonder what the game would be like if the all the worlds best players played some of it.

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