'Big breakthrough' as Hooper, Nawaqanitawase set to play in Sevens warm-up

Fri, Jun 14, 2024, 12:49 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
A clutch finish from Nick Malouf wins it in extra-time of the SVNS Singapore quarter-final

Michael Hooper's Olympic dream has been boosted after being named in Australia's touring squad to face Fiji next week.

Hooper missed the SVNS Grand Final in Madrid as he deals with osteitis pubis in his pelvis region.

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The decision to rest the legendary Wallaby (along with a new mattress) has freshened up Hooper for the trip to face the Olympic champions in a series of games over a two-day period.

“We got really good bang for our buck out of resting him. He’ll talk about the new mattress but probably the decision not to travel was the big breakthrough," coach John Manenti told Rugby.com.au. “He’s trained really well the last couple of days and (has) no symptoms at this stage.

“We’re looking to push him hard in Fiji. The reality was he wasn’t going to be a big-minute player in Madrid and he was always going to play reasonably big minutes in Fiji.

“There’s a lot of things which would have struggled to settle (the injury) and he would have to keep running so the decision was made to give him rest and get him to 100% for the best chance rather than playing under stress and fatigue.

“We’re a few days out still but he’s training what that plan which has worked."

He is joined in the squad by fellow Wallaby Mark Nawaqanitawase and Western Force playmaker Max Burey.

Both have previous Sevens experience, with Nawaqanitawase featuring at the 2022 Commonwealth Games whilst Burey helped Australia to their maiden Sevens title in 2021-22.

“Mark has been with us before and Joe’s (Schmidt) decision not to take players that aren’t going to be around next season has freed him up," Manenti said.

“There’s obviously some conversation around the Roosters potentially wanting him early but at this stage he’s keen to be here…he’s training with us, coming to Fiji and putting his best foot forward.

“Max had a good stint there in Super Rugby and with Moz (Longbottom) working towards being back for Paris ultimately he’s had a few hiccups along the way so Max is that instinctive player that can give us some creativity.

“He’s someone we want to have a look at and what he’s like around the boys to see what that looks like.

“He’s keen to have a crack at it and see what he can do.”

Aussie 7s squad to face Fiji

Dally Bird, Max Burey, Tim Clements, Ben Dowling, Connor Hickey, Michael Hooper, Michael Icely, James McGregor, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Henry Palmer, Henry Paterson, Dietrich Roache, Hayden Sargeant, Josh Turner

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