Rugby-Wallabies skipper Hooper set for Super Rugby return

Rugby World Cup - Australia Captain's Run
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Australia Captain's Run - Oita Stadium, Japan - October 18, 2019 Australia's Michael Hooper during Captain's Run. REUTERS/Edgar Su

March 30, 2022

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia captain Michael Hooper will play his first Super Rugby match in more than 18 months this weekend after being named in the New South Wales Waratahs team for Friday’s clash against Fijian Drua on the Gold Coast.

The loose forward, who had a spell in Japan during a contracted break from Super Rugby last year, will start on the bench in his first outing for the Waratahs since the 38-32 win over the Melbourne Rebels on Aug. 29, 2020.

“To have one of the best players in the world return is really exciting,” Waratahs coach Darren Coleman said.

“Notwithstanding his playing ability and what he’ll add to the scoreboard, the professionalism and the way he carries himself has a real positive effect on the team.

“We can’t wait to see him on the field this weekend wearing the sky blue.”

Without Hooper, the Waratahs endured a winless season last year but Coleman’s arrival as coach has revived Australia’s best-resourced provincial team.

The Waratahs will be targeting a fourth win in seven matches on Friday when they take on one of the competition’s two new teams at Robina Stadium.

A World Rugby Player of the Year nominee last year on the back of his performances for the Wallabies, Hooper captained the Waratahs to their only Super Rugby title in 2014.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Peter Rutherford)