Thu, Mar 28, 2024, 5:01 AM
Rugby Australia

Wallabies legend Michael Hooper is set to make his Australia Sevens debut after being named in a 13-man squad for the sixth round of the HSBC SVNS World Series in Hong Kong on April 5-7.

Hooper, a four-time John Eales Medalist with 125 caps for the Wallabies, joined the Men’s Sevens squad in November before an Achilles injury delayed his start with the team.

His inclusion is one of two changes made by coach John Manenti with Maurice Longbottom also returning from a calf injury in another major boost for the side.

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

“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 claimed silver in Cape Town and Perth earlier this season before hard-fought performances in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the Australia Women’s Sevens team has made three changes ahead of their campaign with key players returning from injury and a debutant included as they aim to stay on top of the series standings.

Young guns 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 also still out 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.

“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. Every round of the HSBC SVNS series will be shown exclusive, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport.

Australia Women’s Sevens team for Hong Kong SVNS:

2. Sharni Smale

3. Faith Nathan

5. Teagan Levi

6. Madison Ashby

7. Charlotte Caslick

8. Kaitlin Shave

9. Tia Hinds

10. Bella Nasser

12. Maddison Levi

13. Heidi Dennis

14. Bridget Clark

22. Bienne Terita

65. Sariah Paki

Australia Men’s Sevens team for Hong Kong SVNS:

1. Henry Hutchison

2. Ben Dowling

3. Henry Palmer

4. Dietrich Roache

6. Henry Paterson

9. Matt Gonzalez

10. Nick Malouf

11. Maurice Longbottom

12. Nathan Lawson

14. James Turner

25. Hayden Sargeant

77. Michael Hooper

87. Michael Icely