'He gave it every shot': Manenti opens up on Hooper omission for Paris Olympics

Wed, Jul 3, 2024, 6:38 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Michael Hooper scores his first try in Sevens against Canada in Game 2 of SVNS Singapore

Men's Sevens coach John Manenti has conceded Michael Hooper's Olympic bid ran out of time after confirming his side for Paris.

Hooper was limited to just two events after an Achilles injury derailed his campaign before a groin issue ruled him out of Madrid.

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A promising week in Fiji boosted his hopes before Manenti made the tough choice to leave out the four-time John Eales Medalist.

“He gave it every shot," Manenti told reporters.

“He was really strong in our last tournament in Fiji so ultimately, he probably ran out of time.

“He didn’t have enough chance to undo the hardwiring he had from 15s but he’s been excellent around the group and offered a lot.

“It was a tough conversation but one that he handled like the good guy he is and he’s really happy with the squad.”

Captain Nick Malouf paid tribute to Hooper's leadership expertise in helping mentor the young squad.

“His CV speaks for itself. His ability to help me with my leadership, some really good advice to just bounce ideas off has been fantastic.

“I think for the team as well, a guy with really high standards pushing himself out of his comfort zone, he’s always wanted to best for the team and we saw that ever since he joined us in January.”

Manenti has brought back Corey Toole and Mark Nawaqanitawase into the squad, with Josh Turner and Michael Icely amongst the tough omissions as part of the travelling reserves.

“Most of the squads have picked themselves over the last couple of years so it didn’t come down to the last little bit," Manenti said.

“The people you have to tell that have been striving for a while, that’s the tough conversation.”

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