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Rugby Australia statement: Michael Hooper and the 2024 Olympics

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Hooper is on course to potentially clash with Antoine Dupont at next year’s Olympic Games after Rugby Australia confirmed that the ex-Wallabies skipper will be part of his country’s men’s sevens squad in 2024.

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The confirmation came just hours after it was revealed in France that Dupont is set to miss the upcoming Guinness Six Nations and instead play on the revamped HSBC SNVS Series so that he can take part in the Games next July at Stade de France.

A statement read: “Australia’s most-capped Wallabies captain, Michael Hooper, has signed on with Rugby Australia’s sevens squad for 2024 and will embark upon the upcoming global HSBC SVNS Series, as the programme sets its sights on the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

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“A four-time winner of the John Eales medal as the Wallabies player’s player of the year, Hooper switches to the sevens programme having made his Super Rugby debut in 2010 for the NSW Waratahs and with 125 Test caps to his name.

“Hooper will join the sevens programme full-time in January and is hopeful of playing in his first tournament on home soil at the inaugural Perth SVNS over the Australia Day long weekend.

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“World Rugby has revamped the global HSBC SVNS Series for 2024, with the calendar now incorporating eight rugby festivals in major cities around the world, and with both men’s and women’s competitions taking place at each event – Perth being the third stop of the new season.

“The Australian men’s sevens qualified automatically for the Olympics as a result of their finishing position in last year’s World Rugby Sevens Series, with the sevens showpiece tournament to be held at the Stade de France in Paris next July.

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“The Australian men’s and women’s sevens teams begin their SVNS series campaign on December 2-3 in Dubai before visiting Cape Town, Perth, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore and Madrid on the road to the 2024 Paris Olympics.”

Hooper said: “I’d like to thank John Manenti (Australian men’s sevens coach) and Scott Bowen (national performance manager – sevens) for the opportunity to join the programme in what is a massively exciting year with the Olympics on the horizon.

“The transition is something I have thought a lot about and I’m extremely motivated by the challenge of playing sevens and trying to earn my way into this team. I’ve started making a few changes to my training in preparation and can’t wait to get started in January.”

Manenti added: “Michael is an outstanding rugby player and a great leader, so we are thrilled to have him join our programme. We know he has got a strong skillset for sevens and a big engine and we are looking forward to helping him transition quickly to the format.

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“He is a player with big-game experience and to have someone like Michael in our set-up can be a point of difference for us next year.”

  • HSBC SVNS Perth is the third round of the season and takes place at HBF Park in Perth from January 26-28. Click here for tickets
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Shaylen 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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