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No Michael Hooper as Australia name squads for SVNS Series Grand Final

By Finn Morton
Former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is on debut at the Hong Kong Sevens. Picture: World Rugby.

Former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper will not play at the SVNS Series Grand Final in Madrid later this month with coach John Manenti rotating the squad ahead of the “tough” event.

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Hooper, who won four John Eales Medals during a distinguished 15s career with the Wallabies, debuted on the Series in Hong Kong China before backing up in Singapore earlier this month.

The 32-year-old showed signs of growth and promise, and even scored his maiden rugby sevens try at Singapore’s National Stadium, but Hooper has been rested while other players are being given an opportunity to impress ahead of the Olympics.

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Australia have welcomed back experienced campaigners Matt Gonzalez and Josh Turner from injuries, and also Dally Bird and Tim Clements who have continued to chip away at training.

Playmaker Maurice Longbottom is still unavailable as he continues to rehab an injury before the Paris Olympics which gets underway at Stade de France from July 24 to 30.

The Aussie men’s side made two Cup finals this season on their way to a fourth-overall finish behind other competition Grand Final-champion hopefuls including League winners Argentina.

“We head into the (SVNS Series) Final excited about the new format and our first trip to Madrid,” coach John Manenti said in a statement.

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“The team has prepared well and are keen to have a crack at the best teams on the circuit.

“We welcome back Matt Gonzalez and Josh Turner from injuries, as well as Dally Bird and Tim Clements coming in on the back of consistent performance on the training paddock.

“Our pool is as tough as ever with league champions Argentina, France and Great Britain.”

As for the Australian women’s team, they’ve received a major boost with “the world’s most experience player” Charlotte Caslick returning in time for the Grand Final.

Caslick, who won Olympic gold at the 2016 Games in Rio, missed the most recent leg in Singapore along with Sharni Smale. Unfortunately, Smale will miss the event in Madrid.

Rising star Bienne Terita is also back from a niggly injury, which comes as a welcomed addition to the group following season-ending injuries to Madison Ashby and Lily Dick.

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“The journey continues and the enjoyment we derive from having a real purpose keeps us thriving,” coach Tim Walsh explained.

“Madrid serves us another opportunity to perform, learn and prepare ourselves against the world’s best.

“The world’s most experienced player returns in Charlotte Caslick and also speed and power merchant Bienne Terita.

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“The prospect of a shootout with the top eight teams in the world provides prestige and an excitement never experienced before.”

Fans can watch the HSBC SVNS Series Grand Final in Madrid live and free on RugbyPass TV. To catch the SVNS action and other exclusive rugby content, sign up HERE.

The Grand Final will be held from May 31 to June 2 at the home of European football giants, Estadio Civitas Metropolitano.

Australia’s men’s sevens team for SVNS Grand Final

Henry Hutchison, Ben Dowling, Dietrich Roache, Tim Clements, Henry Paterson, Josh Turner, Dally Bird, Matt Gonzalez, Nick Malouf (c), Nathan Lawson, James Turner, Hayden Sargeant, Michal Icely

Australia’s men’s sevens team for SVNS Grand Final

Faith Nathan, Dominique Du Toit, Teagan Levi, Charlotte Caslick (c), Kaitlin Shave, Tia Hinds, Bella Nasser, Maddison Levi, Bridget Clark, Bienne Terita, Ruby Nicholas, Sariah Paki, Sidney Taylor

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Turlough 1 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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