Michael Hooper’s Sevens debut for Australia put on hold

David Skippers
Michael Hooper during a Wallabies training session.

Michael Hooper during a Wallabies training session.

Former Wallabies captain and openside flanker Michael Hooper’s highly publicised code switch to Sevens has been delayed after it was confirmed that he will not be in action at the Perth SVNS.

Hooper revealed he wanted to switch to the shortened version of the game late last year, after he was omitted from the Wallabies’ 2023 Rugby World Cup squad by then-head coach Eddie Jones, who claimed the 32-year-old was not a good role model.

Four-time John Eales Medalist

The veteran back-row had a decorated Wallabies career which included captaining his country more times than any other player and winning the John Eales Medal as Australia’s player of the year on four occasions.

However, he is still adapting after making the transition to a different version of the game and Australia Sevens coach John Manenti broke the news that Hooper would not be part of his squad at the Perth Sevens, which is the Australian event on World Rugby’s revamped SVNS series and will be held at the end of January.

“Michael is working hard as he continues to adapt to the Sevens workload,” Manenti told Rugby Australia’s official website.

“We’ve decided a take a conservative approach with his transition to the World Series and we will look for him to take part in further tournaments later on in the year.

“We are looking forward to seeing what he can add to the programme in the coming weeks and months.”

Hooper is expected to make his debut for the Australian Sevens team on the North American leg of the SVNS series, which will see events taking place in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

The timeline for his debut is similar to France scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont, who is expected to make his bow in Vancouver at the end of February with the Los Angeles leg taking place early in March.

Both Hooper and Dupont made the switch to Sevens with an eye on the Olympic Games in Paris in July.

“Firstly, 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,” said Hooper last year when announcing his code switch.

“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.”

In sixth spot on the SVNS table

Australia currently occupy sixth position on the SVNS series standings after losing to Argentina in the final in Cape Town last December.

They will take on Ireland, Great Britain and the USA in Pool B in Perth.

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