Peter RaeMichael Hooper never even dreamed of playing professional rugby as a child, but on Saturday the Waratahs captain will become the youngest player in Super Rugby history to play 100 matches when he lines up against his former club at Allianz Stadium.
Hooper got his start with the Brumbies in 2010 贵阳桑拿会所and has not looked back, racking up a combined 99 games for the ACT franchise and the Waratahs to go with his 65 Wallabies caps.
At 25 years and 140 days, Hooper will go past Kurtley Beale (25 years, 208 days) and Quade Cooper (26 years, 42 days) as the youngest Super Rugby centurion.
Regarded as one of the best No.7s in world rugby, Hooper is the last man to blow his own trumpet, as evidenced when he said this week was all about teammate Sekope Kepu, who will celebrate 100 caps for NSW.
The Waratahs could do with some extra motivation as they look to atone for consecutive defeats in South Africa, which has left them precariously placed with one win from three starts this year.
“I never envisaged myself playing Super Rugby but I always enjoyed the game, I’ve always enjoyed rugby,” Hooper said. “I’m really happy to be a part of it. [It’s a] nice milestone but I’m more excited for the game.
“[I] always like playing the Brumbies, it’s always a tough match-up. If years gone by is anything to go by, it’s been really tough games;贵阳伴游网 low-scoring, physical affairs, so I’m sure it’s going to be more of the same this weekend and a good challenge for us back home off the back of a tough trip.”
Hooper says his career wasn’t smooth sailing from the start, even if he did score a try on debut against the Chiefs in the days of Super 14. “I felt well out of my depth and I did for quite a while,” Hooper said. “It seems like an absolute age ago and [there were] a lot of scars and cuts less but still loving it all the same.”
The workrate of the Waratahs captain is second to none and after some choice words from former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer last year that Hooper was the worst No.7 of the Australian Super Rugby teams, the Manly local responded in emphatic fashion with a sensational year that resulted in a second John Eales Medal.
“If you could jump into that magic gene pool and clone that bloke, you’d have 15 Michael Hoopers out there, no dramas,” said Waratahs assistant coach Nathan Grey. “He’s a really good athlete, he’s very durable and he’s a guy that consistently performs at a high level.”
While the Brumbies have bragging rights after their home and away wins over NSW last year, it is the Waratahs who have history on their side with an impressive 13 victories from 16 starts in Sydney against the Brumbies.
Hooper is adamant the Waratahs will take plenty away from their winless South African tour and be pumped to take on a Brumbies outfit that may have back-rower Scott Fardy and prop Scott Sio back in the starting XV.
Hooper described Bernard Foley as an “enigma” following his well-documented recovery from a bad concussion sustained in the Highlanders trial match. 贵阳夜网The Waratahs five-eighth sported an orange injury bib at training on Tuesday. Foley did not participate in any contact work but slotted in at No.10 and looked comfortable in attack. A final decision on his availability is likely to be made on Thursday.
“He’s in a really good space mentally and coming back from Africa early I think has done him the world of good,” Hooper said. “It’s touch and go with head injuries, everyone knows that. I know him more than anyone is dying to play.”
In other injury news, Will Skelton (hamstring) was put through some individual fitness work aside from the main training session while Andrew Kellaway (shoulder) and Taqele Naiyaravoro (head knock) did not complete any contact work.
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