Paris Olympics: Former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper to make sevens debut

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Wallabies legend Michael Hooper will take his first big steps towards the Paris Olympics when he makes his rugby sevens debut for Australia in Hong Kong next weekend.

The former long-serving Australian captain has been named in a 13-man squad and, after an injury-delayed start to his new career, will play his first match against powerhouse outfit Fiji.

Hooper, a four-time John Eales medallist who played 125 time for Wallabies, joined the Australian men’s sevens team last November, but his debut was delayed after suffering an achilles injury.

He swapped to sevens after bringing an end to his illustrious career in the 15-man game, a time ended prematurely by a calf injury that prevented then Wallabies coach Eddie Jones picking him for what turned out to be a disastrous World Cup campaign in France.

Coach John Manenti was excited to finally get to see Hooper in what is a major stepping stone towards potential selection for the Paris Olympics.

“We’re really excited about heading back to Hong Kong, where we have had some recent success,” Manenti said.

“Our performances in LA were some of our best this season and we have the opportunity be better again next week.

“We welcome back Maurice Longbottom, who will add some spark in the midfield and for the first time we’ll get to see Michael Hooper in an Australian sevens jersey.

“‘Hoops’ has worked hard to make his way into the squad, and we’re all delighted to welcome the ‘rookie’ into the mix.

“Like any new player, it will be a learning experience for him, and an important start point to a potential Paris Olympics.

“Every pool is tough and ours is no exception with Fiji first-up and then LA winners France to kick off day one action. We’ll need to be at our best.”

The Aussie men claimed silver in Cape Town and Perth earlier this season before hard-fought performances in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

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