"Olympic Dream" - Michael Hooper To Leave The Waratahs At End of Super Rugby Season - Ruck

“Olympic Dream” – Michael Hooper To Leave The Waratahs At End of Super Rugby Season

The Wallabies legendary back-rower Michael Hooper has told his club, that he won’t be playing in Super Rugby next season. Hooper is expected to play his final home match for the New South Wales Waratahs on the 3rd of June, as they take on Moana Pasifika.

Michael Hooper of Australia has try disallowed under pressure from Chris Robshaw of England during the Old Mutual Wealth Series match, between England and Australia at Twickenham Stadium, London , UK, on the 18th November 2017.(Photo:Dean Lancaster/PPAUK)

The Sydney Morning Herald reported how Hooper is coming up to the end of his five-year contract, and is uncertain as to where he will be playing his rugby next season. Hooper seems set on one thing though, and that is he will be moving away from Sydney, after calling the Waratah’s home for nine seasons.

The 31-year-old has made 139 caps for the Waratahs, and his devoted leadership took the Australian side to the title of 2014 Super Rugby Champions. The ‘tahs are currently sixth in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific table, and seem unlikely to qualify for the play-offs, bringing the retirement horizon ever closer to Hooper.

ROSARIO, ARGENTINA – OCTOBER 05: Michael Hooper of Australia in action during a match against Argentina in the Rugby Championship 2013 at Gigante de Arroyito stadium on October 05, 2013 in Rosario, Argentina. (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/LatinContent/Getty Images)

Hooper has previously discussed an ambition to represent Australia’s Olympic rugby sevens team, and is eyeing up the opportunity to win a gold medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It would be cool wouldn’t it?” Hooper said to the Sydney Morning Herald. “Seeing Samu (Kerevi) and the guys represent your country at an Olympics, that’s pretty special. But I honestly don’t know if I could do it athletically.”

Former Australia Sevens Assistant Coach Stephen Hoiles, believes that Hooper could in fact succeed in the fast-paced Olympic sport.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – AUGUST 23: All Blacks captain Richie McCaw shakes hands with Wallabies captain Michael Hooper after winning The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies at Eden Park on August 23, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

“He is definitely one of the people who could succeed at that level … the most important ingredient is almost the ability to stuff yourself in the hurt locker and stay there for 14 minutes, six times in a weekend,” Hoiles said.

“It doesn’t sound like much but it’s almost harder than 15s, where its intense but you get plenty of breaks. Hoops’ experience and mindset would help lift that squad, for sure. He has good skills and is a good reader of the game.”

For now, Hooper’s future in the 15s game remains undecided. The Waratah’s flanker has previously played a season in the Japan Top League, as he starred for the Toyota Verblitz in the 2021 season. Hooper’s options seem to revolve around a return to Japan, a move to France, the Olympic dream, or retirement.

“There’s a bit of ambiguity in the air [and] ambiguity in my mind. I’ve not got anything lined up for next year. I’ve been in a contract for a long time … since the end of 2009. Aside from that [stint in Japan in 2021], it’s all been in Australia.

“I don’t know what the next thing is going to look like. It’s a nice position to be in. That might be playing, that might not be playing, that might be having time off. I’m a completely open book. Or I’ll just hang them up.” Hooper said.