He might be the Australian men’s sevens biggest recruit this season, but former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper won’t be available for this month’s Perth Sevens.
Despite wanting to “roll out our new toy”, Australian Sevens coach John Manenti said Hooper wasn’t quite yet ready to complete his transition from the 15-a-side game.
“It’s a little bit disappointing because we’re keen to roll out our new toy, but he’ll get plenty of opportunities,” Manenti told The Roar.
“He’s only really been training with us since January 3. He’s been training, he works hard, and is pretty fit, but he’s got to be able to sprint back-to-back twice a day for three days in a row, which he hasn’t done yet.
“It’s just a matter of getting him up to speed. He’s had a bit of soreness, which has stopped us from being able to push.”
Hooper’s unavailability means he will just have five more official tournaments in the new World Series SVNS tournament, with next month’s Vancouver leg now his target.
Should Hooper feature in the event, he will likely go toe-to-toe with arguably the world’s best player, with Les Bleus captain Antoine Dupont eyeing a debut at the tournament in Canada after also setting sight on featuring at the Paris Olympics.
In better news, sevens regular Henry Hutchison is set to make his comeback in Perth after rupturing his ACL at last year’s Sydney Sevens.
Hutchison was close to making his comeback at the Cape Town Sevens but suffered a slight setback during training with the Waratahs.
Matt Gonzalez is also set to be included, with the attacking livewire to tag team with Maurice Longbottom after recovering from a rib injury that saw him miss Australia’s run to the final in South Africa last month.
A toe injury means schoolboy sensation Hadley Tonga is unlikely to receive a call-up either, while Henry Patterson is edging closer but is likely to be fit for the North America legs of the tournament.
Australia will feel confident of making a run deep into the three-day tournament, with Manenti’s men grouped alongside Ireland, Great Britain and the USA in Pool B.
Australia’s women, meanwhile, have been grouped alongside Canada, Great Britain and South Africa.