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Why Aussie broadcaster ‘felt’ for Michael Hooper on SVNS debut in Hong Kong

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

Well-known SVNS commentator Sean Maloney has compared his struggles during a recent half-marathon in Canberra to Michael Hooper’s debut at the Hong Kong Sevens last week.

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Hooper, 32, was a headline-grabbing inclusion in Australia’s squad for the prestigious SVNS Series leg at Hong Kong Stadium. ‘Hoops’ had trained with the squad for a while but an Achilles injury pumped the brakes on a potential debut.

But finally, about a fortnight ago now, the former Wallabies captain was officially named in Australia’s squad in the event. Hooper would go on to debut on the SVNS Series as a second-half replacement against Fiji on Friday night.

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The 125-Test veteran, who wore the No.77 over the three-day event at the spiritual home of rugby sevens, showed glimpses of promise in Hong Kong China and was rewarded with a maiden start in the third-place playoff against Ireland.

Hooper also played a pool stage match against eventual finalists France. Popular Australian broadcaster Sean Maloney has explained why he “felt” for the Wallabies legend during that fixture which kicked-off at about 9 pm (local time) on day one.

“Hooper is now a fully-fledged Aussie sevens player,” Maloney said on Stan Sports’ Between Two Posts.

“Oh man, I felt for him. His first involvement in the game against France with two to go, has to get through a tonne of work real quick and then has to try and track back in defence.

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“The legs, it was like me in the marathon, there was nothing there.”

After Australia’s final match of the weekend against Ireland, which they lost 14-5 on Sunday, Hooper took some photos with fans around the stadium before disappearing down the north-west tunnel.

Finn Morton spoke with former Wallaby Michael Hooper after his SVNS Series debut. Picture: World Rugby.

Hooper, who won a record four John Eales Medals during his illustrious 15s career, said it himself after stopping to speak with a few reporters: “I didn’t have high minutes.”

But in a bid to make the Olympics squad later this year, Hooper’s first opportunity on the SVNS Series was clearly an important experience.

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“Just how quick it is, how quick the game is,” Hooper told RugbyPass and other reporters after being asked what he’s learned. “It’s over in a flash.

“Probably it being like real rugby… I felt good out there, I felt like I could compete.

“There’s some areas of the game that I think I can get a lot better at for sure; how I link with other players and when I can impact the game. It was a good weekend.

“I didn’t have high minutes. That was probably the most amount of time there in that game and I felt good,” Hooper added.

“We go three weeks at home now, a bit of a down week, and then two really good weeks and get over to Singapore. I’ll be better again then.”

They may have finished fourth in Hong Kong China but Australia have dropped down one place on the men’s SVNS Series standings into sixth after rivals New Zealand won the Cup final.

New Zealand, who have been quite inconstant this season, moved up to fifth with just one more regular season event to be played in Singapore in about three weeks’ time.

But it’s all building towards a first-ever Grand Final event in Madrid which gets underway at the end of May.

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