Gulf Today

Hooper beats nerves to make winning sevens debut


HONG KONG: Former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper admited feeling ‘really nervous’ ater making a successful sevens debut on Friday, the start of a journey he hopes will take him from Hong Kong to the Olympics.

The veteran of 125 Tests came on in the second half of a 12-0 victory for Australia over Fiji to launch their title charge for the Hong Kong crown, the most prestigiou­s in sevens rugby.

The 32-year-old has switched to sevens ater the loose forward was axed from the Wallabies squad by then coach Eddie Jones for last year’s 15-a-side Rugby World Cup.

“I was bloody nervous, I mean really nervous on the sideline,” said Hooper, who was quickly into the action and won a turnover to seal the win against a Fiji side that have won the Hong Kong title a record 19 times.

“It’s completely new -- the whole drawout of the day, the fans are already here going nuts.

“I have not started on the bench much in my career, so to come on with four minutes to go and the game in the balance, it was tough stuff.”

Australia were already leading 12-0 when Hooper made his eagerly anticipate­d introducti­on to sevens rugby against a Fiji team that are the reigning two-time Olympic champions.

Both teams will be in Paris this summer for the Olympics, and Hooper hopes to do enough between now and then to earn his place in the Australia squad for the French capital.

He joined the squad in November but his start was delayed by an Achilles injury.

“I just had to come on and finish it off for us,” Hooper said.

“It was completely unique. I am loving the atmosphere.

“I am trying to pull a lot on my experience. I’ve got a wealth of games under my belt (in 15-a-side rugby) and I’m trying to lean into that.”

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