- Ex-Wallabies star Michael Hooper got in touch with Sonny Bill Williams
- Wanted advice from cross-code star on Sevens Rugby circuit
- Hooper is pushing for a spot in Aussie squad ahead of Paris Olympics
Before deciding to give Sevens Rugby a crack with the Australian squad ahead of the Paris Olympics next year, former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper reached out to Sonny Bill Williams for advice.
The response from the Kiwi cross-code star was brutal: ‘Don’t do it.’
Hooper admitted the blunt words from Williams – who represented New Zealand in Sevens at the 2016 Olympics in Rio – ‘didn’t fill him with a heap of confidence’, but it didn’t deter him from pursuing a fresh sporting challenge.
‘I haven’t spoken to a huge amount of guys [who have made the switch from 15s to Sevens], but I do want to get a lot of information from the guys who do play sevens and I need to lean on them a lot,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘I want to pick their brains because it is a different game.’
Before deciding to give Sevens Rugby a crack with Australia ahead of the Paris Olympics next year, former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper reached out to Sonny Bill Williams for advice
The response from the Kiwi cross-code star was brutal (Williams is pictured, playing for the All Blacks where he won two World Cups)
Hooper was a glaring omission from Eddie Jones’ World Cup squad, with the coach bizarrely feeling the ex-captain ‘wasn’t an appropriate role model’
After 125 Tests for the Wallabies, Hooper, 32, knows he needs to hit the ground running.
The decorated openside flanker confirmed he had offers abroad to remain in the 15-a-side code, but potentially becoming an Olympian has considerable appeal.
Hooper was a glaring omission from Eddie Jones’ World Cup squad, and his absence proved decisive, with Australia failing to progress beyond the group stage for the first time in embarrassing scenes.
He has already made an impression at Sevens training in Sydney, with scrum half Matt Gonzalez labelling his new teammate a ‘real pest’.
‘Having him here lifts everyone’s competitiveness. He’s a real competitor,’ Gonzalez told Wide World of Sports.
The veteran has already made a big impression after just one training session as he chases his Olympic dream
‘He had one full training session with us today [Monday] and we’ve seen already at the breakdown that he’s going to be a real pest, even at training, so we’re going to have to be on our game in terms of that stuff.
‘We do a lot of seven-on-seven work and it’s usually two-hand touch and the breakdown’s kind of left alone a little bit to give the attacking team a chance, and Hoops was just kind of in there getting his hands around the ball, pulling the ball out, so if we weren’t there quick enough he’d rip the ball out.
‘It’s good for us; it keeps us alert and accountable.’
Hooper will join the sevens program fulltime in January and is hoping to debut in Perth during a global tournament on the Australia Day long weekend.