‘Welcome to the rookie’: Hoops starts Olympic bid with Hong Kong selection


Former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is set to make his Australia Sevens debut in Hong Kong next weekend as he tries to prove himself worthy of Olympic selection.

Hooper, who played 125 caps for the Wallabies, has been part of the squad since November but is yet to play after suffering an Achilles injury.

Also called up for Hong Kong on April 5-7 is Maurice Longbottom who has been sidelined with a calf injury.

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

Aussie men’s Sevens coach John Manenti with Michael Hooper. (Photo by Nicholas Ward/ Rugby Australia)

“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 took silver in Cape Town and Perth earlier this season.

The women’s team has made three changes ahead of their campaign as they aim to stay on top of the series standings.

Bienne Terita and Heidi Dennis are back in Tim Walsh’s side while Bridget Clark is set to make her Sevens debut with Dominque Du Toit unavailable through injury, and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea missing with a shoulder complaint.

The Aussie women claimed silver in Los Angeles earlier this month and will look to continue their momentum towards the Olympic Games in July with another strong showing.

“The Olympic runaway is nearly upon us, and the squad is coming together providing some real depth, points of difference and some experienced and stable combinations,” Walsh said.

“Dominque Du Toit is unavailable due to a lingering ankle injury, paving the way for debutant Bridget Clark.

“It’s a welcome return to a very powerful and dangerous player in the form of Bienne Terita.

Honing in on Hong Kong #Aussie7s #HSBCSVNS pic.twitter.com/nRGMe14eRv

— Australia Sevens (@Aussie7s) March 26, 2024

“Bienne adds experience, speed and a physical presence to the line-up. Also returning for her second appearance is the young and explosive Heidi Dennis.”

The women’s side will kick off the action in Pool B against Fiji at 3.25pm (AEDT) on Friday 5 April before clashing with Ireland later in the evening.

The Aussie men also start their campaign against Hong Kong favourites Fiji, with kick-off at 8:30pm (AEDT) on Friday 5 April.

Australia Women’s Sevens team for Hong Kong SVNS:

Sharni SmaleFaith NathanTeagan LeviMadison AshbyCharlotte CaslickKaitlin ShaveTia HindsBella NasserMaddison LeviHeidi DennisBridget ClarkBienne TeritaSariah Paki

Australia Men’s Sevens team for Hong Kong SVNS:

Henry HutchisonBen DowlingHenry PalmerDietrich RoacheHenry PatersonMatt GonzalezNick MaloufMaurice LongbottomNathan LawsonJames TurnerHayden SargeantMichael HooperMichael Icely

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