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Wallabies captain Michael Hooper ready for return to Super Rugby

By AAP
(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

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Michael Hooper won’t return for the NSW Waratahs’ crunch clash with the Queensland Reds, instead targeting the Super Rugby Pacific encounter with Fijian Drua on April 1.

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The Wallabies captain enjoyed a one-year cameo in Japanese rugby last year before a foot injury in Australia’s penultimate 2021 Test kept Hooper off his feet in the preseason.

The flanker, now 30, was contractually obliged to delay the start to his 2022 campaign anyway, with a keen eye on next year’s World Cup in France.

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The four-time John Eales Medallist returned refreshed to Waratahs training last week and, while back to full fitness, said on Tuesday he hoped to make his return against the Drua.

“I’m fully functional at the moment … if that’s (a return) next week or the week after, not sure,” Hooper said.

“A lot depends on how this week goes.”

Winless in a historically poor 2021, the Waratahs are 3-2 under new coach Darren Coleman and will leapfrog the Reds (4-1) if they beat them at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

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“I’ve been watching from afar for two years … I’m super impressed and happy for them,” Hooper said.

“You don’t want to put a cap and where we can go … there’s a real confidence, there’s a hunger to improve.”

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