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Watch: Michael Hooper scores first SVNS Series try but ‘not happy’ with form

By Finn Morton
Australia's Michael Hooper scores a try during the men's group match between Australia and Canada of the HSBC Rugby Sevens Singapore tournament at the National Stadium in Singapore on May 3, 2024. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Hooper can tick off an impressive SVNS milestone with the distinguished former Wallabies captain scoring his first try on the Series, but the Aussie is still “not happy” with his current form.

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Hooper, who ascended to legendary status during a glistening 125-Test career in the 15s side of the sport, debuted on the SVNS Series at the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens in early April.

The Australian rugby great, who is the only man to have won the John Eales Medal on four occasions, returned home to Sydney after the event with his teammates for three weeks of training which has seemed to pay off.

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Playing at Singapore’s National Stadium on a humid Friday, Hooper came off the bench in Australia’s tournament opener against Argentina before receiving a start against Canada in the late evening.

The Canadians struck first through Matt Oworu in the third minute, but the match swung in Australia’s favour not long after as Hooper crossed for his maiden try in international rugby sevens.

Playmaker Dietrich Roache threw a brilliant offload which handed Hooper the score on a silver platter. ‘Hoops’ joked with RugbyPass about the difficulty of the score, but it’s a try nonetheless.

“Dietch’s is one of those players who, I didn’t even think he was going to get that offload away and he’s able to do things that you don’t even think are coming,” Hooper told this website.

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“If you turn up in the right spot around a good player like that, sometimes good things happen.”

Hooper received the ball about three meters out and only had to dive to complete the try-scoring feat. It may have been somewhat straightforward but it’s an important marker in Hooper’s SVNS journey.

Less than one month ago at Hong Kong Stadium, the Australian secured a trademark turnover in a gutsy win over Fiji but otherwise failed to fire or really stand out over the three-day tournament.

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After receiving a maiden start against Ireland in the third-place playoff, ‘Hoops’ walked off the field and down the tunnel before opening up on the experience in a brief chat with RugbyPass and others.

“There’s some areas of the game that I think I can get a lot better at for sure,” Hooper said at Hong Kong Stadium on the 7th of April.

Well, after three weeks of training back in Australia, Hooper remains far from content. If you watched the SVNS on Friday, you would’ve seen a clear improvement in Hoops’ game.

But the Aussie is hungry for more.

“It was a long three weeks. I’m not happy with how I’m performing yet,” Hooper revealed. “My intuition is all wrong. I’m so ingrained in how I play as a fifteens player that it’s taking some time to adjust.

“So, okay, tick I’ve got my fitness (right) and my body’s tolerating the load, my skill’s getting better around the pass – still can improve a bit more. The last bits just finding the nuance of this game which is proving difficult but I’m enjoying the challenge.”

Catch up on all the latest SVNS Series action from the 2023/24 season on RugbyPass TV. SVNS Singapore is live and free to watch, all you need to do is sign up HERE.

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J
Jon 1 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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